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Letter to Members of the US House and US Senate Missouri River Working Groups


Location: Omaha, NE

Today, Governors and representatives of 8 states impacted by this year's historic flooding of the Missouri River will meet in Omaha to discuss concerns and issues related to Missouri River flood control in the wake of this year's historic flooding. Additionally, the Governors are announcing the formation of a working group to continue addressing these issues.

Gov. Dave Heineman (NE) is hosting Gov. Terry Branstad (IA), Gov. Sam Brownback (KS), Gov. Jack Dalrymple (ND), Gov. Dennis Daugaard (SD), and senior staff for Gov. Matthew Mead (WY). Gov. Jay Nixon (MO) will join the meeting by phone and have senior staff in attendance. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (MT) also will join by phone.

During the meeting, the Governors will sign a letter to Members of Congress stating that the states are committed to have more direct involvement in flooding issue management through the formation of a Governor's working group. The Governors plan to coordinate their efforts with those of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives pertaining to flooding issues of the Missouri River.

The Governors will continue their August 19 discussion, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proving an update on how the Corps will modify its operations plan for next year to help prevent the extreme flooding experienced this year. FEMA representatives from Regions 7 and 8 and Federal Highway Administration representatives will discuss emergency programs and coordination between states and the federal government.

Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota are signing the letter to the Congressional Members of the respective states.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Members of the US House and US Senate Missouri River Working Groups:

The Governors or their representatives of seven states directly affected by the Missouri River met in Omaha, Nebraska in August, to discuss our concerns with and issues related to the Missouri River flood control in the wake of this year's historic flooding and unprecedented flows. One of the outcomes of that meeting was a commitment to more direct high level involvement by the Governors and states in addressing issues that impact flooding on the Missouri River.

To this end, the Governors of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming have formed a working group, to coordinate and actively address as needed matters pertaining to Missouri River flooding. We recognize that coordination will need to include both input to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on potential actions to reduce flood damage from future high flow events and work with our congressional delegations to provide useful direction for Corps activities in our states. We look forward to working with you collectively on ways to provide greater flood protection in the basin, including sharing information between your bi-partisan Missouri River working group and our own.

At our August 19, 2011, meeting we discussed the need for an independent review of the 2011 Missouri River flood and actions taken by the USACE. We request that Congress consider conducting a high-level, independent review of the Corps' actions as they pertain to the 2011 Missouri River flooding. Specifically, was the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) and Master Manual followed and could different actions have been taken under the AOP that would have reduced flooding impacts in the basin? In addition, we encourage such a review to examine if recent USACE budgeting allocations have aligned sufficiently with the prioritization on flood control.

There is clear consensus from seven of our states that flood control must be the highest priority in the operation of the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System. We plan to work closely with the USACE to see that levees are assessed and repaired in a timely manner that minimizes the potential for future damages.

We met with USACE again today, October 17, 2011, and discussed the 2011-2012 Annual Operating Plan, levee repair, other recovery efforts, and future flood risks.

We look forward to working with you in the future and would appreciate any input you may have regarding this important issue. Thank you.

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