Flood Control Should Be Top Priority For Missouri River

Flood Control Should Be Top Priority For Missouri River

Farmers and others who lost crops, homes, farmsteads, businesses and were otherwise affected by this year's devastating flooding along Missouri River are making it clear to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: We can't go through this again next summer!

As farmers in Iowa and other states have experienced multiple years of Missouri River flooding, the Iowa Corn Growers Association believes flood control should be the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top priority for Missouri River management. "It is the Army Corps of Engineers' responsibility to manage the Missouri River Reservoir System and to make changes minimizing the impact of flooding," says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, director of government affairs for ICGA. "Therefore, we as an organization believe funding must be redirected from other Army Corps accounts such as the Missouri River Recovery Program to support recovery efforts. The corps must also increase the reservoir space allocated for flood control."

For more information on the impact of the Missouri River flooding, she invites you to click on and read the attached PDF file and also view the video documentary produced by the Missouri Corn Growers Association.

Iowa and Nebraska withdrawing from Missouri River management group

It was announced November 4 that Iowa and Nebraska are withdrawing from an association of Missouri River states and tribes because of a dispute over how to manage the river. Iowa and Nebraska were two of several states that suffered extensive flooding along the Missouri River this past summer.

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad announced November 4 that their states would pull their membership from the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes. A spokesman for Branstad, Tim Albrecht, says the two states are withdrawing because of a dispute with Montana over how to manage the river and what Branstad and Heineman view as the group's unresponsiveness to their concerns.

Iowa and Nebraska have pushed to release more water from upriver reservoirs in the spring to prevent the kind of extended flooding that occurred last summer in both Iowa and Nebraska, and in Missouri. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer maintains that more aggressive flood control measures would infringe on his state's wildlife and recreation industries. He and Heineman argued during a meeting of governors involved in the Missouri River association last month. The meeting was closed to the public but those who were present later told reporters about the clash of ideas and opinions.

Branstad released a statement criticizing the Missouri River association for not "actively pursuing" more aggressive flood control measures during the group's recent meeting. Moreover, said Branstad, "there have been long-standing concerns that the Missouri River association's by-laws are too narrowly constrained to adequately represent the diversity of key stakeholders and multiple uses of the river."

2011 flood cost Iowans $207 million in lost crops and business activity

The Iowa Farm Bureau has estimated the Missouri River flooding cost to be $207 million in lost crop sales and related crippling of economic activity in 2011, just on the Iowa side of the river. Branstad says the flooding covered more than 280,000 farm acres in Iowa and severely destroyed or damaged 380 homes.

Albrecht, who is Branstad's press secretary, says the state of Iowa will continue to work with other agencies and governments on the flooding problem, but going through the Missouri River association doesn't seem to be the best way to do it. Heineman, the Nebraska governor, says the association didn't seem to be the best way to achieve his goals. Heineman says the highest priority should be protecting citizens' homes, farmers' farms and people's businesses.

The governors say they want to avoid a repeat of the summer 2011 flooding that submerged thousands of acres of farmland, forced residents from their homes, rerouted trains, rerouted truck traffic and rerouted motorists for several months. Some cities, including Omaha and Council Bluffs, spent millions of dollars trying to protect airports, water treatment plants and other facilities from rising waters.

Governors want to avoid repeat of summer 2011 Missouri River flooding

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the more than 2,300 mile long Missouri River, which flows from Montana through parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. The Missouri River's drainage basin also includes Wyoming.

Except for Montana, all states have said controlling flooding is their top river management priority, Heineman said in a letter to the association. "We are trying to make flood control the priority of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well," says Heineman. Army Corps administrator General John McMahon told the governors at a meeting in October that it could cost $500 million to $1 billion to repair the levees, dams and other flood control systems damaged in this year's extensive flooding along the Missouri River.

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