Iowa lawmakers blast Corps of Engineers in hearing on river management


December 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A U.S. House subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday to discuss the management of the Missouri River. Iowa Congressman Steve King has introduced legislation that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to revise its management policies to increase the total amount of storage space within the Missouri River reservoir system that is allocated for flood control. King told the panel Corps officials initially stated they would not alter their policies because they felt the flooding this past summer was a “500 year flood” event.

“I want to emphasize that we have 150 years of records and they’re declaring a 500 year event,” King said. “If you had 10,000 years of records and (flooding) happened a couple times a millennia, you might be able to say this is a 500 year event. No mortal can tell you it’s a 500 year event.” The Corps announced in early November that it would change how it manages the river. King believes Congress should still take charge of flood control in the Missouri River basin.

“We have to tell them…if we don’t tell them, (the Corps) will slide back to being run by the environmental interests as opposed to the first priority, which should be protection from flooding downstream,” King said. Many lawmakers have blamed the Corps of Engineers at least in part for the severity of the flooding that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and reduced miles of highways and interstates to rubble. Congressman Leonard Boswell said the flooding “requires us to change our policies.”

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)