After a series of 42 public hearings in Iowa and several other states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to create a new master plan for the waterway that forms Iowa’s western border. Monique Farmer, a Corps spokeswoman in Omaha, says the first phase of developing the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study — or M-Raps — is complete.

“From this point, we will develop the scoping report and that is expected to be released sometime during the winter of 2011,” she says. According to Farmer, the public input from the many hearings across the river basin will help set the guidelines for Corps officials to craft the next stage of the study.

“They will likely take a look at how certain variables impact, based on economics, environmental quality, public safety, communities, social networks,” Farmer says. “The comments that we received from the public will really help us shape the size of the study and the actual scope.” Farmer says they are still a long way from a finished document.

“Tentatively, it’s five years, but you just never know,” she says. “Once we get into the actual portion where we’re studying some of these variables, it could take longer, it could be shorter. We’re still sticking with multi-year study.” The outcome of the study could lead to Congressional changes in the management of the dams and reservoirs on the Missouri River.

The hearings took place in Iowa, Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton