Attorney General Jay Nixon’s request for a temporary restraining order preventing the US Army Corps of Engineers’ "spring rise" has been denied, but was immediately appealed. The Attorney General’s urgency is because the spring rise is due to begin tonight. Water will be released from upstream dams into the river, which will approach Missouri in 10 to 12 days. Scott Holste, spokesman for the Attorney General, says that while the spring rise itself might not be substantial, the difference to those who are recovering from the recent floods will be.
"While four or five or eight inches of water on the river may not sound bad in the abstract to the people who are having to sandbag against the possibility of flooding, or people who are just cleaning out their homes now," says Holste, "Obviously, this is not good news."
The AG’s office says that many of the damaged levies near farm land along the Missouri River have still not been repaired since the flooding of last May. It is concerned that the farm land throughout western and central Missouri will be negatively impacted by the additional water, as well as hit these flooding victims a second time. Governor Blunt and other state officials have also acted by writing letters to the corps, urging it to forego the rise. The Corps’ intentions with the spring rise are to aid the spawning of the pallid sturgeon, a fish on the endangered species list. Many of those opposing the spring rise question the science behind its intentions.
"We believe that the science behind this spring rise where it’s supposed to help the pallid sturgeon’s spawns, that it’s unproven," says Holste, "We’ve been fighting this battle for many years with the corps. We don’t think the evidence is in the corps’ favor."
For Holste and the rest of the Attorney General’s office, the issue is not the pallid sturgeon but those recovering from flooding across the state.
"We believe that, certainly, the flooding victims in Missouri are more important than fish spawning," says Holste.