South Dakota Editorial Roundup: Managing the mighty Missouri is a difficult jobThe ingenuity of mankind can be amazing. But we have to acknowledge our limits. Such is the case in attempting to manage the flow of the Missouri River at the four mainstream dams in South Dakota and two upstream in North Dakota and Montana.
The ingenuity of mankind can be amazing. But we have to acknowledge our limits. Such is the case in attempting to manage the flow of the Missouri River at the four mainstream dams in South Dakota and two upstream in North Dakota and Montana.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the federal responsibility to run the dams through which the flow is controlled. But the corps can neither make rain and snow, nor stop rain and snow.
We saw that in the droughts of the mid-1980s and the long drought that finally broke a year ago. Likewise, we saw the high flows during the 1990s and we saw again this year with a very wet spring.
The corps became more accommodating to the needs of the Dakotas and Montana in recent years, largely because of pressure put on the corps for several decades by leaders such as governors George S. Mickelson and Bill Janklow, and then-U.S. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, and then-Game, Fish and Parks Secretary John Cooper, and behind-the-scenes officials such as John Guhin of the state attorney general’s office.
Likewise, the public has become more accommodating toward the corps. When key officials from the corps’ Omaha district visited Mobridge in April, they actually received a round of applause at the end of their public meeting.
Now the corps is trying to control flooding on the lower Missouri River by holding back water in Lake Francis Case reservoir and releasing water from a full Lewis and Clark reservoir in South Dakota. Consequently, we are losing camping and boating access on Francis Case because of the high water.
We don’t like it, but we accept it. Flood control was a primary purpose for the dams’ construction. Circumstances point toward the high-water situation remedying itself in July.
In the meantime, the state Division of Parks and Recreation has developed solid plans for providing temporary camping services, and at least nine boat ramps will remain open unless conditions worsen.
When all sides work together, things can turn out for the better.
Aberdeen American News