Other Views: Balancing sides on the riverNo one wants to see the Missouri River flood again here, whether because of ice jams, spring runoff or “rain events.” Dredging stretches of the river where sandbars have created the opportunity for ice jams seems a practical and reasonable preventive measure.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
No one wants to see the Missouri River flood again here, whether because of ice jams, spring runoff or “rain events.” Dredging stretches of the river where sandbars have created the opportunity for ice jams seems a practical and reasonable preventive measure.
The river teased local residents with an ice jam last winter, so we know the potential for calamity is real.
The state will dredge two areas south of Bismarck-Mandan. A large sandbar was deposited by the 2011 flood waters near the mouth of the Heart River on the west bank of the Missouri, and another where the river bends to the east on the east bank. The work will cost $750,000, and the funds to pay for it will come from the State Water Commission, unless the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides later to reimburse the state.
Officials here wanted the corps to participate in the dredging, but the federal agency refused. The corps is waiting for a more comprehensive study of the Missouri River to be completed, and a couple of sandbars bracketed by Burleigh and Morton counties might seem insignificant compared to the other issues the corps faces on the river.
Fortunately, North Dakota has the financial capability to pay for the work. Gov. Jack Dalrymple has been walking the dredging issues through the necessary steps required by state government.
Missouri River, post flood, continues to settle in, and State Engineer Todd Sando said the channel has become wider and the river easier to navigate. The Missouri may naturally solve some of the problems that river watchers see within her banks today. Remember, the Missouri did not get as high as expected last summer because, unexpectedly, she started scouring out a deeper channel capable of handling more water.
Nature can be self-correcting, if left to her own devices and man can refrain from tinkering.
However, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven is right to continue to push the corps to address potential flooding issues on the Missouri River in North Dakota. Studies which are in progress need to be completed, and a long-term strategy must be laid out for providing flood protection. With that must come congressional approval and, if necessary, federal funding. There’s a lot of work to do.