MoRAST to request studyA planned study of a sweeping World War II-era law that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to operate the Missouri River will be high on the agenda of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes when it meets Monday and Tuesday in Rapid City.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A planned study of a sweeping World War II-era law that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to operate the Missouri River will be high on the agenda of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes when it meets Monday and Tuesday in Rapid City.
In February, MoRAST voted to request a reassessment the 1944 Flood Control Act.
The executive director, David Pope, said the group will use its meeting time to refine its approach.
“We will further discuss that study and try to put a little more meat on the bones in regard to the nature of the study requested, the need for it and ... the scope,” Pope said in an interview.
“We’re working on kind of a white paper, if you will, to better define that, so we’ll be talking about that.”
Pope said the decision to seek the study was not unanimous but that he thinks no members will actively oppose it.
“There’s clearly some mixed emotions and some concerns, I suspect, by some sectors in the (Missouri River) basin, but I believe my reading, based on past discussions and actions by our group, indicated that most of the states, maybe with the exception of a couple, are fully behind the study,” Pope said.
The Flood Control Act outlines two priorities: navigation and flood damage control. Activities along the river have changed over the last 64 years, and that’s what upstream states want to study.
Since 1990, the Missouri River has been the focus of almost a dozen lawsuits.
Upstream states generally prefer steady or rising water levels in the spring when fish are spawning. Downstream states are mindful of flood control, but they also want dependable flows for municipal and commercial water uses and to float barges.
Pope said MoRAST plans to go to Congress next year for authorization for the study and for funding, which could be several million dollars.
“We’ve made that request and had some contacts already in Congress and there has been some movement and some consideration already this past year,” he said. “And I would anticipate, at least, that we would be reasserting that request and working to try to achieve funding for the study next year.”
Some opponents of the study have called it a veiled attempt to kill navigation and cripple flood control in the lower basin.