Gov. Jack Dalrymple, along with governors and representatives of 6 other states impacted by Missouri River flooding, met today in Omaha, Neb., where they discussed concerns about the river system's management. They also signed a joint letter, asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide recommendations for future river system operations that provide greater flood protection.
"Important questions remain regarding the management of the Missouri River system," Dalrymple said. "We need to know more about how the system was managed leading up to this year's historic flooding and how it can be better managed in the future.
"States along the Missouri River need better and more timely information and we need to have direct involvement in the system's operations because there seems to be a huge deficiency in governance of the river," Dalrymple said. "These improvements need to be made or we should pursue gaining authority to manage the river system ourselves."
Dalrymple asked other state leaders to consider future management of the Missouri River under a state compact. He called for 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. He said an early warning system could help homeowners decide if they need flood insurance and it would give communities more time to build levees. Dalrymple also shared questions and concerns about: the timing of water releases from Garrison Dam prior to this year's record flooding; inconsistencies in snowpack readings; and whether the Corps' master manual really recognizes flood control as the primary purpose of the Missouri River system.
Attending the meeting with Dalrymple were: Gov. Dave Heineman, Neb.; Gov. Sam Brownback, Kan.; Gov. Dennis Daugaard, S.D.; Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa; Gov. Jay Nixon, Mo.; and a representative for Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead. U.S. Army Corps Brigadier Gen. John McMahon also attended the meeting and briefed the state leaders on the river system's management.
The governors agreed to pursue an independent, external review of the Corps' management of the river system leading up to this year's flooding and they agreed to meet again in November to review the river system's operation. They also signed a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh, who oversees the Army, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The letter states, "There is clear consensus that flood control must be the highest priority in the operation of the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System.
"We strongly request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers thoroughly examine future management of the Missouri River in light of this year's precipitation and flooding and report to us on alternate actions to reduce flood damage from future high flow events. We also request that the Corps provide recommendations for specific operational changes to afford greater flood protection in the basin in the future and consult with the states and tribes in selecting and implementing any changes."