A U.S. House subcommittee opened hearings this week to discuss the management of the Missouri River.
Iowa Congressman Steve King has introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise its management policies to increase the total amount of storage space within the river’s reservoir system allocated for flood control.
King says Corps officials initially said they would not alter their policies because they felt the flooding this past summer was a “500-year flood” event.
“I want to emphasize that we have 150 years of records and they’re declaring a 500-year event,” King said. “If you had 10,000 years of records and (flooding) happened a couple times a millennia, you might be able to say this is a 500-year event. No mortal can tell you it’s a 500-year event.”
The Corps announced in early November that it would change how it manages the river. King believes Congress should still take charge of flood control in the Missouri River basin.
“We have to tell them…if we don’t tell them, (the Corps) will slide back to being run by the environmental interests as opposed to the first priority, which should be protection from flooding downstream,” King said.
Many lawmakers have blamed the Corps of Engineers at least in part for the severity of the flooding that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, and reduced many miles of highways and interstates to rubble.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton