Corps: more flood storage offers limited benefit


April 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says having more space free in the Missouri River’s reservoirs would have reduced but not eliminated last year’s flooding.  The corps says in a new report released Friday that flooding still would have caused widespread damage along the Missouri last year because of the massive volume of water that moved through the river.  And any increase in the amount of flood storage space in the reservoirs would reduce the economic benefits the river offers through barge traffic, recreation and hydropower. The corps says increasing flood storage space in reservoirs is only one option to reduce flood risk. It says officials may need to consider increasing the capacity of the Missouri River channel and reducing development in the flood plain.

Western Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, of Kiron, criticized the Corps’ reports, saying in a statement today (Friday) that their report is “incomplete.” King says “In an analysis that purports to analyze the impact of increased flood storage on other authorized purposes like navigation, hydropower generation, and recreation, there is no consideration of the benefits that additional flood protection would have had on these activities during last year’s historic flood. This is a significant hole in the Corp’s analysis.” 

He said “We know, for example, that last year’s flooding virtually shut down navigation on the River – yet the Corps’ analysis here give us no indication of how increased storage capacity might have helped to address this.” King went on to say “This report says, ‘Flood control is the only one of these authorized purposes that requires empty space in the reservoirs’ and that therefore the other purposes, ‘which all require water-in-storage to maximize benefits, would experience negative impacts with additional flood control storage.’ This premise is substantially flawed for a number of reasons.” According to King, “If 2011 taught us one thing, it’s that there is a point at which additional flood control benefits everyone on the river. There is no recognition of this basic fact in the report.”