Published July 14, 2023

Sakakawea on the rise 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
(Photo: Kim Fundingsland/The Dakotan)
(Photo: Kim Fundingsland/The Dakotan)

Several Feet More Than Expected 

RIVERDALE – Lake Sakakawea has been experiencing a dramatic rise in water level the past few weeks, and there’s much more to come. 

According to the latest projections of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Sakakawea’s peak elevation this year is expected to be 1,842.6 feet. One month ago the forecast called for a high of 1,837.9 feet. 

The 4.7-foot expected increase is the result of a runoff forecast, primarily mountain snowmelt, in the upper portion of the Missouri and Yellowstone River basins. Total runoff into the Missouri River basin is presently projected to be 29.2-million-acre feet of water, up from 26.8 maf a month earlier. Average runoff is 25.7 maf. 

It is anticipated that Lake Sakakawea will reach its maximum height of 1,837.9 feet by the end of July before beginning a very gradual decline to 1,834 feet in December.  

The current water levels, and the anticipated rise, fall within operating norms for the state’s largest impoundment. Lake Sakakawea’s history has seen a low of 1,808.2 feet in 2005 and exceeded spillway level of 1,854 feet in 2011. 

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