An unprecedented meeting of Missouri River Basin governors has concluded in Omaha with the governors agreeing that flood control must be the top priority of managing the Missouri.
Governor Heineman called the governors together and announced the conclusion reached afterward during a news conference. The governors met with officials of the US Army Corps of Engineers to discuss what went wrong this year that spawned devastating, widespread and summer-long flooding. The Missouri River likely won’t recede into its banks until late September or early October as the Corps continues to pour water from upstream dams into the Missouri.
Heineman stated that the governors had an excellent discussion with the Corps, but he also disclosed the dissatisfaction among the governors of how the Corps managed heavy snowpack and spring rains upstream.
“We do want to work with the Corps. However, I want to make one point from a Nebraska perspective,” Heineman said. “It is critical in the future that the Corps respond quicker to the flood challenges that we will inevitably face. The Corps must to a better job in the future to prevent the flooding of cities, farms, businesses, ranches, power facilities and other public, critical infrastructure.”
The Governors signed a letter [DOWNLOAD PDF] to John McHugh, Secretary of the United States Army. Secretary McHugh has statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the Army, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The letter states, “There is clear consensus that flood control must be the highest priority in the operation of the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System.”
The governors also ask that the Corps examine its management of the river this year and propose alternatives to reduce the chance of flooding in the future. Additionally, the governors ask that the Corps inform the states and the Indian tribes affected about any changes it proposes to make in its management of the Missouri River.
Heineman, who is chairman of the National Governors Association, called the governors together for a closed-door meeting with Corps officials at the Gallup campus in downtown Omaha, next to the Missouri River. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds attended the meeting. Wyoming Governor Matthew Mead declined the invitation, but sent a representative.