What Is The Maximum Release Capacity Of Gavins Point Dam?

As part of the Press & Dakotan’s Fact or Fiction series, I addressed some questions about the dam, including just how much water could be released at Gavins Point:

QUESTION: Is Crest Road that travels the length of Gavins Point Dam closed due to the vibration created by the high releases?

ANSWER: Crest Road was closed May 9 to accommodate work being done on the intake gantry crane that hovers over vehicles as they pass through the dam’s southern edge. The road closure is expected to last until June 24, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official recently told the Press & Dakotan.

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QUESTION: How much water can be released at Gavins Point Dam?

ANSWER: If the spillway gates were opened to capacity at the dam, the release would be 584,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Gavins Point Operations Project Manager Dave Becker puts that in perspective: “If you’re watching the Yankton Bucks, 584,000 cfs would put 13.4 feet of water on a football field every second.”

There is a good reason the dam was built for that capacity, he said.

“During the flood of 1952, Yankton had a flow of 480,000 cfs,” Becker stated. “We need to have the capability to release very high flows in the event of an extreme flood.”

At 150,000 cfs, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently forecasting as the peak release at the dam, a football field would be covered with 3 1/2 feet of water every second.

3 thoughts on “What Is The Maximum Release Capacity Of Gavins Point Dam?

  1. How much water was being stored/held by the dam in January; February, March and April 2011?
    Why wasn’t the release of water started earlier in lesser amounts possibly avoiding what is going on now? Inability to predict rainfall and snowmelt do not seem to be acceptable answers; the dam was supposedly put there to catch heavy flows — in order to do that the levels should have kept low to allow for the expected/unknown!

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