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Loebsack, Boswell Call for Hearing into Flood Management Plans and Regulations

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

July 6, 2011

The Honorable John L. Mica
Chairman
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nick J. Rahall II
Ranking Member
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
2163 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall,

We write to draw the Committee's attention to the very important and timely issue of flooding and water management. As you are certainly aware, Iowa and the Midwest have recently seen a number of severe floods and storm related disasters ranging from 1993 to 2008, and now we are witnessing continuing flooding on the Missouri River and in North Dakota. Further, we have already seen one of the most damaging floods ever on the Mississippi River this year.

From the western border of Iowa on the Missouri River to the eastern border on the Mississippi River and in between, Iowa residents are affected by numerous flood control structures and navigation measures which all regulate water levels and water management in and surrounding the state. Whether it is dams and reservoirs or levees and locks, Iowans are certainly aware of the benefits such structures provide but also of the risks posed during flood events.

Given the numerous devastating flood events witnessed in Iowa and the entire Midwest since 1993, we respectfully request the Committee hold a hearing to hear testimony from flooding and weather experts, local or state officials, and Army Corps of Engineers representatives to discuss the current regulatory and statutory environment governing the development or altering of operation manuals and plans, maintenance, and use of dams, reservoirs, levees and locks under Army Corps jurisdiction. In order to ensure the Army Corps has the resources to perform their duties fully, a discussion on the fiscal situation faced by the Army Corps with respect to maintaining these structures for their intended purposes would be informative as well.

Additional questions could be explored such as: should management plans and policies be examined periodically to account for a variety of changes in weather, hydrology, or land use changes; how much flexibility is the Army Corps allowed to update management plans if they or state and/or local officials consider it to be necessary; does the Army Corps have adequate resources for maintenance of these crucial structures; do local and state governments have enough input on management plan decisions or initiating changes; and what other potential issues or factors are affecting the operation of these structures for their flood control purposes?

Research indicates flood events and severe weather are increasing so we feel it is appropriate for the Committee to examine policies dictating management and operation of reservoirs and other flood control structures so that such policies can be tailored, if necessary, to ensure flexibility and account for new developments. Many areas in Iowa are still recovering from the devastating Floods of 2008 and numerous areas will be recovering for years to come from the flooding this year. As a result of the Floods of 2008 and ongoing flooding issues, we urged President Obama last year to include a request in his Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the Army Corps to perform scientific studies of the management plans for the Army Corps flood-control reservoirs in Iowa.

Through this hearing, we hope to be able to examine the regulatory and statutory environment the Army Corps works within to ensure they have the ability, resources, and can receive and accept a stronger level of input from local, state, or federal officials to ensure the management and operation of critical flood control infrastructure stays up to date and flexible in an evolving environment. Given the urgency of addressing current disaster recovery needs, the seemingly continuous instances of disasters this year, and hurricane season developing, we again respectfully urge the Committee to hold a hearing to address these important topics. Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Dave Loebsack Leonard Boswell
Member of Congress Member of Congress


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