Video: Ks. Senator Pat Roberts on the Missouri River Working Group Meeting
July 14, 2011

This video was provided by Sen. Roberts’ Senate office.

Mo. River Senators Agree, Flood Control, Not Other Interests Should Govern River
July 13, 2011

Perhaps for the first time, US Senators from the Upper Missouri River and the Lower Missouri, agree flood control should be the first priority in managing the river.
That was biggest development at a gathering of 13 of the 14 Senators from the states that border the river. They have formed ‘The Missouri River“ Working Group’. The first meeting was Wednesday in Washington
“Instead of fighting each other, we all agree flood control should be the top concern.
In a joint statement, North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad ratified the thought.
“This spring’s devastating floods, up and down the Missouri, provide strong evidence of the need to get a better grip on this river,” said Conrad. “First and foremost, we need to improve flood control in order to protect people and property, and avoid similar flooding in the future. I hope this bipartisan group can come together and agree on a strategy that can accomplish that goal and still ensure the river is an accessible resource for others who want to utilize it.”
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said that was ” a significant item”.
Kansas Senator pat Roberts agreed. In a statement he said,  ““Something unique happened at this meeting today – we had a group of 14 bipartisan senators working together around the table on an issue of tremendous importance to the people of our states.”

There were two other important developments from the meeting.
The Corps of Engineers top officer in the Missouri River command, told the group the Corps has more flexibility to deal with the future than first thought.
The Corps says, based on this year’s flooding and the recent past, they have the authority to adjust the river management without major changes to the Corps’ complex Missouri River Master Plan.
The Senators so learned the Corps has the ability to adjust it’s budget.
For example the Corps may be able to shift some already-allocated money to more pressing needs.
For example, the Corps may nit use all of it’s wildlife and habitat money, since some of that property may be flooded. Instead, the Corps may b able to shift some unused money into levee repair or maintenance.
The Corps’ flood control budget this year if $6 Million for flood control. It is more than $70 Million for wildlife and habitat.
McCaskill says the next formal meeting may be in the early fall.

Exclusive! Corps Adminstrator Says Floods Not Their Fault
July 2, 2011

A top administrator for the Army Corps of Engineers says the Corps should not be blamed for the massive flooding along the Missouri River.

Jody Farhat, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Office, says the says the Corps reacted “as quickly as they could”, following record rains in the northern plains.

Critics say they didn’t act fast enough.

Farhat was in Elwood, Kansas Friday. She says the releases are expected to continue at the record rate of 160,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) until August.

Farhat says they need “a couple of feet” in the reservoirs before they can cut back on the releases. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says 160,000 cfs that works out to releasing a trillion gallons of water a day from the Gavin’s Point dam and reservoir.

Elwood is one of a number of communities under a voluntary evacuation order because of the threat of flooding. The river came dangerously close to topping the Elwood levee. The flood levels at Elwood and other northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri points has dropped . The prime reason for the drop is flood waters are filling in the fields and homes in areas where farm levees have been topped or breached by the water. The river is expected to start rising again next week.

Farhat and other top Corps of Engineer administrations are under fire because of the flooding. Many victims accuse the Corps of  mismanagement of the river. Crtics say their actions have created the heavy flooding.

Some officials of the Corp will concede the flooding has been “induced” by the huge releases of water.

The Corps insists, however, its management of the Missouri River flow is correct. Corps officials say unexpected, and very heavy rain in the Upper Missouri Basin,is responsible for the flooding. Farhat says the Upper Missouri received almost a year’s  worth of rain for the area within a matter of weeks in May.

Critics say the Corps should have released more water earlier.

“Quite frankly”, said Farhat, “we didn’t have a need to evacuate additional water until we got those very heavy rains in the month of May.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says there are “legitimate questions” about the Corps management of the river. But he says those questions will have to wait until the flooding  ends.

He says the floods will last all summer. He also warned Kansans to be vigilant because the problem is not over. He called it, “a high wire act’.