U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and John Walsh (D-Mont.), along with Representatives Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to Brigadier General John Kem of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calling on the Corps to provide members with information about Missouri River flood prevention plans for the spring thaw and actions the Corps has taken since the 2011 flooding to update and repair infrastructure. The 2013-2014 levels of snowpack, comparable to those of 2011 in the Central and Northern Rockies, have raised concerns about high levels of spring runoff and ultimately the threat of flooding on the Missouri River this year.
The members write, “We are hopeful that lessons learned in 2011 will inform prudent decision-making on the part of the Corps. We believe that a greater level of engagement and information sharing by the Corps with states, tribes, local officials, and other federal agencies is critical to informing river management decisions, particularly under extreme conditions.”
The text of the members’ letter is below:
March 12, 2014
Brigadier General John S. Kem
Commander, Northwestern Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 2870
Portland, OR 97208
Dear General Kem:
After reports from the US Army Corps of Engineers indicating snowpack in the Central and Northern Rockies is reaching comparable levels to 2011, we write to request information on action the Corps is currently undertaking to assess and prepare for the spring thaw.
As you are no doubt aware, the historic flooding that occurred from May to October in 2011 caused devastation for families and communities up and down the Missouri River, some of whom are still recovering. While reservoir levels and several other factors differ from 2011, many of our constituents are understandably concerned about what high snowpack levels mean for the potential for flooding. It is critical that communities and individuals along the Missouri River have access to information on current conditions, the potential flood risks, and how the Corps is managing the reservoir system to limit the threat of flooding.
Accordingly, we request specific information on current actions being taken by the Corps to appropriately prepare for a variety of possible spring runoff scenarios. In addition, we are interested to know how you have worked and communicated with states, tribes, and local communities to gather and share information about current developments in the Basin, a frequent concern from the devastation that occurred in 2011. Lastly, we request a status update on infrastructure repairs and improvements made following the 2011 flood.
We are hopeful that lessons learned in 2011 will inform prudent decision-making on the part of the Corps. We believe that a greater level of engagement and information sharing by the Corps with states, tribes, local officials, and other federal agencies is critical to informing river management decisions, particularly under extreme conditions.
This matter is of great importance to us and our constituents. We appreciate your prompt attention to this request and look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.Sincerely,