Sen. Nelson says the US Army Corps of Engineers needs to answer a number of questions when officials with the Corps speak to the newly formed Missouri River Working Group today.
Senators from Missouri and North Dakota formed the group and invited other senators from states where the Missouri River runs to discuss how the Corps manages the river. Its first meeting is today in Washington, D. C. Nelson says he plans to attend the meeting and ask a number of questions, one of which is likely the most important.
“I want to know the Corps’ plans for making repairs this fall so that we’ll be ready for next spring’s snowmelt and rain no matter what they may consist of,” Nelson tells reporters in a conference call. “The Corps must be ready to rebuild and repair levees from the Dakotas to St. Louis. Nebraskans and everyone living along the Missouri shouldn’t have to suffer another season of hardship like this one if there is any way to prevent it.”
Nelson also wants to know if the announced lower releases from the Gavins Point Dam will be made permanent or are merely temporary, how much space would have been needed to handle the excessive runoff from spring rains and mountain snowmelt, how much the Corps has in its emergency fund, and how much it will cost to repair levees and clean-up the mess once floodwaters recede.
The working group shows some promise, according to Nelson.
“It’s my hope that we can put aside past tensions between upriver and downriver senators and find a way to work together,” Nelson says.
Major General William Grisoli, Army Corps Deputy Commanding General for Civilian and Emergency Operations, is scheduled to testify before the group. Grisoli is a former Commander of the Corps’ Northwestern Division, which oversees the Missouri River. The current Northwestern Division Commander, Brigadier General John McMahon, is scheduled to join the meeting via phone.
Nelson says he hopes the group can agree that flood control should be the top priority of the Corps of Engineers.