OMAHA–(KFOR/News Release Dec. 14)–Water management and related issues with the Missouri River was the centerpiece of a meeting Thursday in Omaha between governors from Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, water experts and representatives with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The importance of the Missouri River is undisputed. From Great Falls, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri, we rely on it for our agriculture, transportation, hydroelectricity, wildlife habitat and more,” said Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen. “We must all work together, and we must act proactively. For those reasons, it is important as states that we continue to have open dialogue with each other and with the U.S. Corps of Engineers.”
Gov. Pillen was joined by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Missouri Governor Mike Parson for the meeting at the Kiewit Luminarium in Omaha.
Following floods in 2011 and 2019 that impacted all three states, collaboration became an important part of work on the Lower Missouri River Flood Risk and Resiliency Plan, which is set to streamline project planning at the the local, state and federal levels.
“Prior to 2019, work through the Corps was primarily reactive to an event,” said Gov. Pillen. “Since then, the focus has shifted to how we can jointly be proactive and stave off a water-related event, before it becomes catastrophic.”
At the summit, Gov. Pillen shared his expectations for managing river flooding and low flows. In December of 2022, ice jams along the Missouri near Omaha impacted utility operations and caused concern for both the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). Gov. Pillen challenged the Corps to improve communication, which might allow low flows and subsequent ice jams to be averted. He also called for updating the management plan for winter ice events, which after several decades, is significantly outdated.
In a matter unrelated to Missouri river management, Gov. Pillen complimented members of the Corps for making strides in processing permit applications necessary for dredge and fill projects.
“This has absolved the state for having to assume that responsibility,” said Gov. Pillen. “It is a great example of how improvements by the Corps have reduced those timelines, allowing projects to be completed without unnecessary delays.”
The Corps receives the majority of its management directives from Congress, through the bi-annual Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The next bill is scheduled for introduction in 2024, and would provide authorizations for flood control studies and project funding, setting and/or removing regulatory limitations, as well as giving direction to various Corps activities across the nation.