An independent panel says the Corps of Engineers did as well as it could in handling the 2011 Missouri River flood but there are lessons from the flood that will let it do better with future floods.
The Corps has turned to a trio of hydrologists and an expert in infrastructure and water resources engineering to assess the problems it faced, its preparations, and its responses.
Colorado State University engineering professor Neil Grigg says the corps had adequately prepared for the snow melt runoff that occupied 53 percent of the water storage space in the reservoirs, an adequate figure until record rains hit. One panel member says the rains in Montana that pushed reservoir storage to the limit dumped three times the normal amount of rain over a quarter-million square miles.
The report says the Corps acted appropriately to preserve the integrity of upstream dams and to limit the flooding downstream—although conditions required record amounts of water being released into the river. The report says some things evident in hindsight were not so clear when the flood fight was underway. The panel says the Corps needs to be given more flexibility in managing upstream storage reservoirs, consider revising storage allocations for the reservoirs, and better forecasting.
The corps, which says it already had learned several things form the flood says it will learn more from the study recommendations.