Lawmakers worried about more Mo. River flooding
Federal lawmakers from states along the Upper Missouri River are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to disclose the steps it's taking to prepare for potential spring floods.
Mountain snowpack levels in the Missouri River basin so far this season are comparable to 2011, when flooding devastated hundreds of thousands of acres of mostly farmland across the Midwest.
On Wednesday, members of congress from Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota asked Army Corps Brig. Gen. John Kem what infrastructure repairs and improvements have been made in the years since.
Lawmakers also want to know how the Corps is managing a network of major reservoirs along the Missouri River to limit the flood threat.
April, May and June historically are some of the wettest months in the basin.
In the letter, the members of Congress said they are worried about high levels of spring run-off and even another round of flooding.
"We are hopeful that lessons learned in 2011 will inform prudent decision-making on the part of the Corps. We believe that a greater level of engagement and information sharing by the Corps with states, tribes, local officials, and other federal agencies is critical to informing river management decisions, particularly under extreme conditions," reads the letter.
The letter was sent by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and John Walsh (D-Mont.), along with Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.).
Their constituents are understandably worried about the coming spring thaw, and some who suffered through the 2011 floods are still recovering, the group said in the letter.
"It is critical that communities and individuals along the Missouri River have access to information on current conditions, the potential flood risks, and how the Corps is managing the reservoir system to limit the threat of flooding," they wrote. "we are interested to know how you have worked and communicated with states, tribes, and local communities to gather and share information about current developments in the Basin, a frequent concern from the devastation that occurred in 2011."