Missouri River Basin: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mainstem management public hearing recap

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From the Associated Press via the KansasCity.com

More than a dozen people testified during a public hearing in Jefferson City hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for managing the 2,000-mile-long river. Congress has authorized a five-year, $25 million study to determine if changes are needed to the management strategy outlined in a 1944 law.

Residents said the river was vital to Missouri’s economy, from providing drinking water to helping cool power plants, and flood control must be a priority. Some feared that the recreation interests of states upstream could take precedence and curtail barge traffic along the river. “The upper-states will never stop until they do away with navigation,” said Dan Kuenzel, 45, who raises hogs and grows corn and soybeans on river bottom land in Washington, Mo.

The Missouri River begins in Montana and flows into the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. Upper basin states generally want water levels to rise or remain stable to help with fish reproduction and to keep reservoirs created by dams full for summer recreation. Lower basin states, including Missouri, want reliable flood control and a steady water flow for barges and drinking water or commercial water uses.

Many people at the hearing questioned why the Corps was studying river management priorities, citing another study completed in 2004. The current study focuses on a federal law approved in 1944 that makes the Corps responsible for managing the river for flood control, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, water supply, recreation, water quality, and fish and wildlife.

More Missouri River Basin coverage here.

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