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Professional Paper 1798–K

The Effects of Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System Operations on 2011 Flooding Using a Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System Model

By Adel E. Haj, Daniel E. Christiansen, and Roland J. Viger

Chapter K of
2011 Floods of the Central United States

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (13.4 MB)Abstract

In 2011 the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System (Reservoir System) experienced the largest volume of flood waters since the initiation of record-keeping in the nineteenth century. The high levels of runoff from both snowpack and rainfall stressed the Reservoir System’s capacity to control flood waters and caused massive damage and disruption along the river. The flooding and resulting damage along the Missouri River brought increased public attention to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) operation of the Reservoir System.

To help understand the effects of Reservoir System operation on the 2011 Missouri River flood flows, the U.S. Geological Survey Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System was used to construct a model of the Missouri River Basin to simulate flows at streamgages and dam locations with the effects of Reservoir System operation (regulation) on flow removed. Statistical tests indicate that the Missouri River Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model is a good fit for high-flow monthly and annual stream flow estimation. A comparison of simulated unregulated flows and measured regulated flows show that regulation greatly reduced spring peak flow events, consolidated two summer peak flow events to one with a markedly decreased magnitude, and maintained higher than normal base flow beyond the end of water year 2011. Further comparison of results indicate that without regulation, flows greater than those measured would have occurred and been sustained for much longer, frequently in excess of 30 days, and flooding associated with high-flow events would have been more severe.

First posted October 3, 2014

For additional information contact:
Chief, Office of Surface Water
U.S. Geological Survey
415 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested citation:

Haj, A.E., Christiansen, D.E., and Viger, R.J., 2014, The effects of Missouri River mainstem reservoir system operations on 2011 flooding using a Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1798–K, 33 p.,

ISSN 2330-7102 (online)




Purpose and Scope

Modeling Methods and Techniques

Missouri River Model Performance

The Effects of Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System Operations on 2011 Flooding

Model Limitations


References Cited

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