Attached YOU may find the most refreshing statement by the Corps on new approaches to floodplain management along the Missouri River.
Some people will not appreciate the reasonableness and efficiencies of these policies; we can encourage them to look at the science behind these approaches.
On another note, I did attend the COE meeting in Omaha NE yesterday and in company of Stu Maas. It was a full house with many filled with anger over the COE management of the Reservoirs.
I did speak on 3 different occasions in response to some ideologies about said management and some of the politics that drives past and present management of the river itself in our reaches. Steve King was present and spoke with emphasis on his Bill in DC which focuses merely on lower the reservoirs as a means to control flooding. I commented in part of Support for the measure but also placed emphasis on the fact the lowering the reservoirs for more flood storage is just 1 small component of flood mitigation. The problem we are still going to have in the reaches on Iowa & Nebraska is flood waters are still going to have to pass through this reach, the question is what will it do when it gets here? A 1300 ft wide river channel has the capacity to take on higher volumes of water but what we have done in the name of navigation and channelization is narrow the river down to just 300ft. Said flood water when it gets here is still going to do 1 thing. It is going to rise up and over its banks and we are going to have the very same thing happen again. I also said asking MT to be the only source with something on the table in the name of flood mitigation is not going to solve our problem.
The question remains what is Iowa and Nebraska willing to put on the table in the name of Flood mitigation to protect its constituents?????
I also said MT, ND , SD doesn't have a 3 million dollar annual economic Navigation industry but what they do have is recreation. I also sighted facts that Iowa only obtains about 2% of the 3 million and Nebraska obtains 3% of 3 million generated by navigation. Simply put in it's context is that we are giving the COE 6.5 million dollars a year to manage the river to support a failed navigational industry where as some of the infrastructure put in place to support said navigation is also a key element to increasing Flood rise 5 to 15ft and forcing the river to come up and out.
Looking at the long term cost and associated damages caused in our section of the river, it being managed for Navigation and to continue said management in our reaches is simply a irresponsible use or application of tax payers resources that could be better utilized in flood mitigation measures and other designated uses that are far more economically beneficial to our states. I am speaking of IA & NE.
I listened and time and time again I heard people draw fire on the COE for how they manage the river. I again spoke and advised all in the room that the COE was authorized by congress 3 years ago to do a study on each of the 8 authorized purposes of COE management. This study would have been the first of its kind that would evaluate each one of the 8 authorized purposes and let them stand on their own merits. Have they developed as first expected in 1944 or have others? Which ones should we continue and which ones should we potentially get rid of? I advised folks that this study would have given the COE a lot of information in the potential re-witting of the master manual in how the river is to be managed going forward into the future and that information would have been given to DC Senators & Representatives for review. However I advised the folks that as some wish to claim upper basin state politics and recreation as a culprit in how the river is managed, SO it was the state of Mo. and said delegates that Killed the MRAPS study, preventing the COE from the ability to review its management of all 8 Authorized purposes. FACT not hot air.
Also in attendance was Zack Nelson a representative from Senator Ben Nelsons office of NE and Nathan Vanderplats a representative from Senator Tom Harkins office IA. I spoke with them all and thanked them for their attendance on behalf of Senators, who from what I gather from Representative King where in DC up on the Hill during a vote session. I asked specifically to meet with senators at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss Mo. River Management that are and will continue to negatively impact our states recreational opportunities, management abilities of present and future migratory habitat facilities.
Key issues are that of Hydrology and channel degradation and how we as states and as a waterfowling community are left in the breeze to struggle with this problem and I must remind folks that we are loosing and it is costing our states Fish and Game & Fish & Wildlife agencies dearly as we slowly see what opportunities we do have go dry. This effect has multiple consequences in lost state revenues and conservation revenues as waterfowl hunter numbers continue to decline. There are ways to turn this around and I will sit down with Representative King, Senator Harkin and Senator Nelson to discuss potential options / ideas that aid our states and said agencies combat this problem that they did not create nor adequate resources in which to mitigate said negative impacts.
In closing I wish to say Thank you to Representative King for his attendance and sharing his thoughts and information on some issues. I wish to say Thank you to Tom Harkin & Nathan Vanderplats, Senator Ben Nelson and Zack Nelson for being there and I look forward to our meeting / discussions.
Together we all must do the right thing and sometimes doing the right thing is not always the easiest. Our first impulse is to take the easy route which is never in the long term best interest of the people or that of our states Natural Resources. These things are Not infinite and that is something that all should remember because when Sportsmen are gone or our number so few, who is it that will pony up the bucks to protect, restore or enhance our Natural Resources? WHO
90 plus % of all North American Wetland that are protected today have been protected, restored or enhance by the Federal Duck Stamp. I strongly ask my friends in congress to consider bringing forward the North American Wetlands Loan Act.
I strongly ask my friends in congress to seek EWP funding for the Mo. Valley region of Iowa & Nebraska.
I strongly ask my friends in congress to maintain strong Support for North America Wetlands Conservation Act better known as NAWCA.
I ask my friends in congress to maintain strong Support for WRP in in the farm Bill and maintain strong support for CRP with in the farm Bill.
This flood of the Mo. River was increased by high run off in the upper basin. It is not by chance that in those regions we have seen unprecedented conversion of native prairie or pasture to row crops, marginal lands taken out of CRP and put back into crop production and wetlands being drained at such a rate that not even the Reservoirs of the Mo. River can handle it. If we rip it up, plow it under and drain it all, one thing is evident. The water does come down stream and we all shall see more flooding in the future and far more frequent in Nature. Maybe going Green in our quest for energy Independency isn't really all that Environmentally friendly after all and lets not forget the Bill that tax payers have to pick up with each Federal Flood disaster. We simply cannot sustain the cost for bad AG policy.
I am also praying for the Maas family and specifically for a good friend Marian Maas who went in to the Hospital yesterday to get some testing done to figure out the negative mass reading on her lung. She has been a strong advocate for our Natural Resources folks on the Great Mo. River with in the whole MRRIC process from it's inception. I pray for the best and God bless.
Mo. Valley Waterfowlers Association IA & NE
Sioux City Iowa
5309 HWY 75N LOT 44
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Op-Ed for Immediate Release: Oct. 24, 2011
Contact: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division
Phone: (402) 995-2420 (888) 835-5971
Past lessons can help shape floodplain management
By Brig. Gen. John R. McMahon
Northwestern Division Commander
The Missouri River Basin Flood of 2011 has once again drawn our attention to the benefits and risks associated with the Missouri River Mainstem reservoir system, its tributaries, levee systems, and the floodplain.
Despite tangible returns on investment of the multi-purpose system, we know it cannot capably handle the most extreme of flood events. Many Basin governors and members of Congress have called for flood control to be the top priority of the eight authorized purposes, and are advocating for increased storage in the reservoirs. As we know, empty space in the reservoir system facilitates the flood control purpose, but with direct implications to the other seven authorized purposes including navigation, recreation, hydropower, irrigation, fish and wildlife, water supply and water quality that need to be thoroughly considered through a public process. We should also be mindful that extremes on the other end of the spectrum in the form of drought are possible and have equally dire consequences to the authorized purposes of the system. We should look at this with our eyes wide open considering the hydrological history of the system and not just one year’s worth of data.
Notwithstanding these very legitimate calls for preeminence of the flood control purpose, there are many other means to the same end that ought to be considered as we go forward. Flood risk can be mitigated beyond creating more space in the existing system. Designating floodways, establishing flood corridor easements, applying new building codes, exercising emergency response plans, stockpiling materials and emergency supplies, improving maintenance and inspections, applying technology to assess best and highest use of the land—that is, uses in the floodplain that are compatible with risk of periodic flooding-- buying flood insurance, changing local zoning ordinances, changing existing levee alignments or setting back levees to allow more room for the river are all examples of alternatives, both structural and non-structural, that should be considered. As they are, we must work closely with landowners, levee sponsors—who decide-- and local communities, states, Tribes, federal agencies and others—who support--- to ensure wise investment of scarce public funds is made.
Wise investment choices result from applying what we learned from past flood events in 1927, 1972, 1993 and 2011. Extreme flood events such as the 1972 flood in Rapid City, S.D., in which 238 lives were lost, and this year’s flooding throughout the Missouri River Basin, remind us that there are limits to man’s ability to eliminate all flood risk. The dams certainly mitigated this year’s losses and the levees protected some communities—however, we must accept the fact that even these well-designed structures have limits. The citizens of Rapid City, with federal and state assistance, reshaped the once destructive Rapid Creek floodway into a "green-way" by converting most of the floodplain into a large park with bike paths and ball fields. They decided that no one should "sleep in the floodplain" and moved houses and hotels to new locations. They thought and acted differently about the floodplain, albeit on a much smaller scale. Today, Rapid City’s central park is a testament to smart floodplain management and a great example of wise investment.
Hence, a broader, more comprehensive approach that involves these other types of actions and measures may be warranted. With this unprecedented flooding event comes a rare opportunity to shape the future of the floodplain in positive, long-lasting ways, much as did our forefathers who envisioned and designed the system we enjoy the benefits of today. This opportunity begins with acknowledgement of the shared responsibility we all bear for our future in the floodplain---if we continue to pit upper basin states against lower basin states or one authorized purpose against the other, and resort to long drawn out litigation, if we fail to learn from the past—then our history is doomed to repeat itself, and this opportunity will be lost until the next calamitous flooding event occurs. The 1994 "Galloway Report" following the 1993 flood event recommended specific policy and programmatic changes to how floodplain management is addressed. Among other points, delineating responsibilities among basin residents, agencies and municipalities, each with a fiscal stake in the basin’s floodplain management effort, and embracing a proactive, shared approach, it envisioned reduced flood damages, minimized upheaval and emotional impact to families and communities, mitigated economic impacts, and a diminished overall toll on communities and taxpayers. When will we learn?
With shared responsibility comes a shared vision of the future. And out of a shared vision comes shared purpose and real progress. The people in the Mississippi River Valley took a shared responsibility approach to following the great Mississippi flood of 1927 which killed about 500 people, left 600,000 homeless, ruined productive cropland, and left 72 percent of the floodplain (16.8 million acres) in shambles�..in the aftermath of that natural disaster, the people and their leaders got organized, conceived the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, got it authorized and funded with a focus on flood control and navigation, and have since seen more than $13.9 billion invested and $478.3 billion in damages prevented—that’s a 34 to 1 return on investment. Isn’t it time we in the Missouri River Basin got similarly organized and galvanized?
Our situation in the Missouri River Basin is different and yet we can still learn from our fellow citizens—we need to get organized around a common vision and with true purpose and acceptance of our shared responsibility. We have a singular opportunity to collaborate with one another given wide appreciation for the value of flood risk management. This collaboration, cooperation, coordination and communication has already begun with the establishment of the Missouri River Flood Task Force, a coalition of states, Tribes, local communities, federal agencies and other partners, contributors and observers. The mission of the Task Force is to complete initial repairs to public infrastructure (e.g. levees, roads, bridges) by March 1, 2012 and to conduct long-term recovery activities to address overall flood risk reduction strategies and plans to keep comprehensive flood risk reduction as the focused priority.
We have a conscious choice to make about the future and where and how we invest for it as a result of this flood event. While acknowledging the federal obligation to repair levees under Public Law 84-99 authority, the status quo of repairing what was without thinking in broader, longer terms about other options would be a missed opportunity. Let’s learn from the past and shape the future now. We are in a unique place in history where our decisions could have a significant and positive difference in the lives of our fellow citizens in the Missouri River Basin. Let’s work together to make wise, informed investment decisions for a better future in the basin.