The head of the entire Missouri River District of the Corps of Engineers says flood control already is the Corps’ number one priority. He wonders what tradeoffs political leaders and private citizens are willing to make so it is an even stronger number one priority. .
Basin commander John McMahon has heard river state governors insist flood control has to get even greater emphasis. He says more flood control is possible by creating more storage space in reservoirs but that changes priorities for other issues. McMahon says there are other means, beginning with thinking differently about the flood plain and what is put in it. He says it’s time to think broadly and deeply about the trade-offs that have to be made to change the future of the basin.
McMahon says a major issue is how much people want to invest in flood control, nothing that the Dutch have 10-thosuand year levels of protection; Americans have 100-year protection.
But there’ will always be a hard truth. ‘”Mother Nature is a powerful force so for man to think that in any given period of time he can predict and understand the scope and scale of what Mother Nature can do to us…is foolhardy.”
He says the Corps of Engineers has the authority to change its master river management manual. But he says the last time it did that, the process took 14 years and involved numerous lawsuits.