Nearly three dozen plaintiffs from western Iowa are part of lawsuit filed today against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The case concerns recurring flooding along the Missouri River between 2006 and 2011. Edwin Smith is an attorney with the law firm Polsinelli PC, based in Kansas City, Missouri. “We’re seeking to be compensated for the devastating losses that our clients, which number of 200, have experienced as a result of this flooding,” Smith announced at a news conference in Omaha.
Thirty-three Iowans are among the roughly 200 landowners, business owners, and farmers along the Missouri River seeking damages. The other plaintiffs are from Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and South Dakota. According to Smith, up until a decade ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prioritized flood control when managing operations of dams, reservoirs, and other structures along the river.
Smith claims those priorities changed in 2004, which led to severe and frequent flooding. “The Corps changed it’s policies and procedures, sacrificing our clients’ interests, in order to promote fish and wildlife and other environmental interests,” Smith said.
The lawsuit contends the Corps violated the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. “It’s the Fifth Amendment that ensures each and every one of us…that the U.S. government cannot take our private property for the good of the public unless they give us just compensation,” Smith said.
The lawsuit alleges the Corps increased water storage levels and altered the schedule for water release from six large reservoirs. It also claims the Corps changed the structure of dikes and dams along the river to scour the banks and make the river shallower and created secondary channels that increase the frequency and duration of floods.