Congressman Rick Berg today announced that he is co-sponsoring legislation with Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R - South Dakota) aimed at increasing the communication flow between the Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) and local residents during times of potential flooding. Under the proposed legislation, titled the "Army Corps of Engineers Communications Accountability Act," the Corps will be required to provide public notice one week prior a projection of high levels.
"Communities in North Dakota were devastated by last year's historic flooding and it's critical that we work together to ensure this doesn't happen again," stated Berg. "As our communities come together and rebuild, we must do everything we can to eliminate the man-made element to last year's flooding. While the Corps cannot control the weather, they certainly can adjust how they prepare and respond to it. This legislation will promote collaboration and information sharing among those who closely monitor our water levels, our local officials, and all of those potentially impacted by flooding."
Each year, the Corps compiles an Annual Operating Plan of potential runoff scenarios into the Missouri River system. This includes a median scenario, an upper quartile (upper 25 percent) scenario and an upper decile (upper 10 percent). Under this proposed legislation, the Corps must provide a seven day notice if they determine that water runoff will be at or above upper runoff scenarios.
Last November, Berg and the Missouri River working group successfully requested that the U.S. House of Representatives hold a public hearing regarding the management of the record flooding that Missouri River States experienced last spring. At the hearing, Berg expressed the need to devise a plan to provide the public with more notice of potential flooding. Berg noted that this legislation is a response to the need for such a plan.
The Army Corps of Engineers Communications Accountability Act has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for consideration.