A proposal from Iowa’s governor is gaining more support to create a coalition of states to address troubles with management of the Missouri River. Despite differences between upstream and downstream states on the river’s use, this year’s record flooding may band them together. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says all the states in the Missouri River basin have a common problem.
Governor Daugaard says, “There’s always going to be some disagreement among the upstream and downstream states, but I do think we will always be united on this issue of flood control first.” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has sent a letter to governors in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, suggesting they form a group to deal with river issues and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Now, South Dakota’s chief executive is joining the chorus.
“Every one of our states has experienced the flood damages and all of the citizens of those states has seen what problems can be created if flood control isn’t the highest priority,” Daugaard says. “I can’t see how anyone from St. Louis on up, all the way into Montana and Wyoming at the headwaters, won’t all agree that number-one among all the elements of dam management should be first — flood control.”
Daugaard says the governors need to work together and question officials with the Corps of Engineers about priorities on the Missouri. He says he’s already talked with Nebraska’s governor about the prospects. “I think we’re going to try and get together a group of governors in Omaha,” Daugaard says. “That’s where the Corps is located. I talked with Governor Dave Heineman about hosting such a meeting and we’re working on the possibility of a date either later this summer or fall.”
Critics say the Corps has placed too much emphasis on recreation and not enough on flood control. Corps officials say they’re following federal law in managing the river for a variety of uses, adding, the flooding would be far worse without their oversight.