A U.S. House Subcommittee meeting tomorrow will continue discussion of how the Missouri River should be managed.
For years, Levee and Drainage District Association Chairman Tom Waters has pushed for flood control to be a higher priority for the Corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri. He says too much of its budget is focused elsewhere. “Since 1992, the Corps has spent $616 million on fish and birds. So, their budget is focused on fish and birds and not flood control, so there’s a real need to change that.”
Waters will testify before the subcommittee and urge them to shift more Corps funding to flood control, but also to ask lawmakers to appropriate more money to repair levees damaged in the 2011 flood.
Congressman Sam Graves will participate in the hearing. He says money for levee work can come from the Corps’ budget for habitat restoration, “…which is $73 million from Gavins Point down to the mouth of the Missouri, as opposed to the $6 million that is spent on levee maintenance. That’s 12 times more money on birds and fish than on levee maintenance. We want to transfer that money over at least this year; possibly next year, and use that as an offset.”
Graves hopes data from the 2011 flood will sway the argument toward increasing capacity in upstream reservoirs, but he is skeptical. “The fact of the matter is when you have years like we had this year, and we knew that snow melt was coming, there should be some adjustments made and there should be some consideration for people’s lives rather than two birds and a fish.”
The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. CST in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C.