Governor Jack Dalrymple today said he is pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to be more flexible in its management of the Missouri River.
"I'm pleased to see that the Corps is finally beginning to respond to the many comments and concerns that people have made about the need for more protection from Missouri River flooding," Dalrymple said. "We will continue to pressure the Corps to make flood protection the top priority in managing the river system."
Brig. Gen. John McMahon, commander of the Corps' Northwestern Division, said late Friday that the Corps will take a more flexible approach to managing the river system. He said the Corps will be more aggressive in managing water releases during the winter and spring and will provide more frequent communication with state, county and local officials.
On Monday, Oct. 31, McMahon notified the North Dakota State Water Commission, that the Corps denied the state's request to lower Lake Sakakawea by 2.5 feet during the 2011-2012 operating season.
Dalrymple told Corps officials during a public meeting in Bismarck the following day that they must consider flood protection above all else in managing the Missouri River system. Citing current wet conditions in the basin and the National Weather Service's weather outlook, Dalrymple and the State Water Commission have asked the Corps to lower the lake by 2.5 feet to provide more storage capacity and additional flood protection during the Corps' 2011-2012 operating season.
The Governor's Office has also spoken with Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, asking her to reverse the Corps' decision against lowering Lake Sakakawea and to provide greater flexibility in managing the river system during the current operating season.