Governors and representatives from eight states hit hard by last year's historic flooding along the Missouri River met today to continue pressing for changes in the water system's management.
Gov. Dalrymple held the meeting on the campus of Bismarck State College where he hosted Gov. Dennis Daugaard, S.D., Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Mont., Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy, Neb., and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback participated by phone and Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office and Chair of the Missouri River Advisory Committee attended in person.
"Its important that the Governors of states along the Missouri River continue the dialogue that we have had concerning flood control of the river system," said Governor Brownback. "The main priority of Army Corps has to remain on preventing damage to our states from flooding, and I appreciate the chance to discuss these issues."
The governors' working group said flood control must be the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top priority in managing the river system. They cautioned Corps Officials who attended the meeting not to allow multi-year periods of low flood threat or the river system's other authorized purposes to overshadow the importance of flood protection.
Today's meeting marked the third held by Missouri River governors and state officials who formed a working group in the wake of last year's record-setting flood events. Missouri River governors have also discussed the river system's management by phone. The governors, who first met last August in Omaha, Neb., told Corps officials they want to continue holding meetings to provide greater input and to create more flexibility in the Missouri River system's management.
"I appreciate the Corps and NOAA's continued willingness to work with the states," Streeter said. "More information and better communication is necessary if we are to improve river management and decrease damage in the future."
The governors called for NOAA and the Corps to establish an early warning system to notify states of flood threats based on mountain snowpack levels, water storage conditions and other factors. Better real-time data with additional gauges along the river system would enable communities to respond faster and more appropriately to changing conditions.
The governors' working group discussed needed maintenance along the river system, where last year's flood waters have left large deposits of sediment buildup or significant scour areas. The 2011 flood altered the river in many places that could have profound long term impacts.
The governors agreed to continue meeting and press for improvements in the river system's management.