Hoeven, Conrad launch 14-member Missouri River Working Group to improve flood control, river management

Senators John Hoeven, Kent Conrad and senators from 7 other states yesterday convened the first meeting of the “Missouri River Working Group,” a cooperative coalition of lawmakers working to improve flood control along the Missouri River and address flood impacts on local communities.

The 14-member group is working specifically to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers can adequately fight current flooding throughout the river basin, assess the factors that led to this year’s extensive flooding, and develop concrete strategies for improving controls to prevent similar flood incidents in the future.

Sen. Hoeven addresses a question to Northwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. John McMahon of the Army Corps of Engineers. L. to r. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

Members were then joined by Maj. Gen. William Grisoli, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, and current Northwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. John McMahon to review the current flood fight and offer strategies to control and prevent future floods. Gen. Grisoli is also the Corps’ former Northwestern Division Commander and has worked with North Dakota on Missouri River issues in the past.

“The Missouri River is a tremendous shared resource with the power to create great economic benefits for those who live and depend on it,” Hoeven said. “As we saw this year, however, it can also cause tremendous damage and hardship. The purpose of our working group is to get everyone up and down the basin working together to analyze fully this year’s flood event, and to take steps to help prevent it from happening in the future.”

“This spring’s devastating floods, up and down the Missouri, provide strong evidence of the need to get a better grip on this river,” Senator Conrad said.  “First and foremost, we need to improve flood control in order to protect people and property, and avoid similar flooding in the future.  I hope this bipartisan group can come together and agree on a strategy that can accomplish that goal and still ensure the river is an accessible resource for others who want to utilize it.”

Last month, Senators Hoeven and Conrad, and Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, sent a letter to their Senate colleagues to seek support for the working group’s efforts. “This year has created huge challenges for the communities along the river. Historic rainfall totals have combined with high levels of snowmelt to place enormous stress on the Missouri’s great reservoirs,” the senators said. “Improving flood control will require cooperation from one end of the Missouri River to the other.”

This spring, the Corps released record levels of water down the river resulting in heavy flooding, and continued high releases are expected throughout the summer. The Corps has been briefing state, local and federal officials regularly on its continued efforts to protect communities, lives, and livelihoods, and continues to work to ensure that those who live near and rely on the river for their livelihoods are kept informed of the latest developments and flood control decisions.

In addition to Senators Hoeven, Conrad, Blunt and McCaskill, members of the Missouri River Working Group include both senators from Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.

Source: office of Senator Hoeven