In the wake of last year’s record flooding on the Missouri River, some members of Congress are demanding a new management style for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith has been critical of the Corps, but says technical decisions about waterflow should be still be left up to the experts.
“When it comes to members of Congress or engineers to make a decision, I think it needs to be engineers,” Smith says. “Congress layering on another mandate certainly I don’t think addresses the challenges that nature can provide us.”
Smith says while this year has not been nearly as wet as last year, that can change quickly.
“We don’t know where the next rain storm will be, between which dams or above the entire system or even below the bottom dam,” Smith says. “We want to make sure that there’s flexibility throughout our policies.”
Smith says the Corps has to work with Congress on changes to the river’s master manual to allow for the extremes.
“We cannot afford to have this boilerplate approach that in a water-short year would actually complicate matters,” Smith says.
In wet years, too, if there’s a mandated flow rate, he says the water would have to be run through even when there are indications of complications that would result downstream.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton