Missouri River - flooding
5:00 am
Mon July 11, 2011

Senators seek to improve flood control on Missouri River

The Missouri River Working Group is holding its first meeting on Wednesday to come up with a policy on flood control.

Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill launched the group with senators from North Dakota to look for ways to improve flood control along the Missouri River and keep this year’s flooding from happening again.

Senator Blunt says in the past, states in the upper Missouri River basin like North Dakota haven't had much flooding, but after this year, he expects all states along the river to make flood control a top priority.

“I would expect a good attendance from the senators from Montana right down to Missouri: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, all of whom have been impacted this year by the flooding conditions of the river,” Blunt said.

Senators Blunt and McCaskill have also joined Senator John Thune of South Dakota and others to request a hearing on Missouri River flood management with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The senators from the Missouri River Basin states want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make flood control its top priority.

Paul Johnston of the Corps' Omaha District says the Corps is open to working with the senators, but that this year's need for flood water storage was unprecedented.

“We got an extraordinary amount of rain in the end of May, followed by the highest runoff in a hundred years, in June. And that essentially filled the reservoirs and took away our flexibility,” Johnston said.

Johnston says to get reservoir levels back down the Corps has had to release record amounts of water down the Missouri River, leading to flooding.