Hoeven Asks Corps' Top General to Review Recent Decision on Lake Sakakawea Level and Provide More Flood Protection

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today asked Maj. Gen. Merdith W.B. Temple, current Acting Chief of Engineers of the Army Corps of Engineers, to provide detailed information on the downstream constraints that prompted the Corps to reject the state’s request to lower water levels on Lake Sakakawea this fall. He also requested that the general provide residents with a better idea of when the agency will be able to create more storage capacity and greater flood protection ahead of next spring. 

General Temple said he will provide Senator Hoeven with a more detailed explanation for the decision within a week, and he assured the senator that the Corps will manage the system as flexibly and aggressively as possible to provide flood protection. 

Last month, the North Dakota State Water Commission made a formal request to Gen. John McMahon, the Corps’ Northwestern Division Commander, to lower water levels on Lake Sakakawea by 2.5 feet this fall to create more storage capacity and greater flood protection for next spring. The request was supported by Hoeven and the state’s congressional delegation, as well as senators and governors throughout the Missouri River Basin. This week the Corps denied the request and said it will draw the lake down to the same level as last year. 

“It’s a concern that the Northwestern Division has declined a proposal that could help prevent flooding next spring,” Hoeven said. “I believe it’s essential that the Corps provide us with a detailed and reasoned account of the constraints that prevent them from providing more storage capacity in the system, and also provide us with a plan to better protect Missouri River Basin communities against the possibility of another destructive flood next year.” 

Hoeven, along with colleagues from other Missouri River states, is working to press the Corps to incorporate lessons from this year’s flooding into next year’s operating plan for the Missouri River. Their goal is to improve flood control along the Missouri and address flood impacts on local communities throughout the basin.