One group of stakeholders is objecting to a move to lower the water-flow on the Missouri River, even though that temporary move has ended. For three days last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut the flow from the Gavins Point Dam at Yankton, lowering water as ordered by a federal judge. Chris Brescia with the “Coalition to Protect the Missouri River” says it cost riverside communities a lot.He says barges are competitive because one boat can push 15 to 30 barges, loaded to ten or eleven feet in depth. But with the water so low, Brescia says barges can only be loaded till they “draw” nine-point-six feet in the water, and only 25 can be taken in one group. The Army Corps of Engineers has been working for a dozen years on a new “Master Manual” for managing the river, and has said it’ll be done soon. Brescia isn’t sure whether the Coalition will give its approval to a new Manual.He says none of the proposals they’ve seen allow for long-term sustainability of navigation on the river. A Judge in Washington, seconded by a judge in Minnesota, told the Corps to reduce the river’s flow to help nesting plovers on the river’s sandbars, but Brescia says that’s “bad science.” He says the birds in question have nested and hatched their young, and were gone from the river before “drawdown” occurred. The cutback in the river’s flow through the dam was only for three days, but drought has shrunk rivers including the Missouri for more than four years now, fueling bitter rivalries between upriver states and those farther down the waterway, and a host of lawsuits that resulted in conflicting rulings.
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