Hoeven: Federal Funding for Missouri River Will Help State, Local Flood Protection Efforts

Senator Brings Corps Official to Bismarck to Address Sandbar, Bank Stabilization Efforts

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today told a group of city, state and county leaders Congress has passed a special disaster appropriations bill that provides $1.7 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers. That includes an additional $700 million he worked to provide for management and flood mitigation efforts on the Missouri River. 

Hoeven said the bulk of the $700 million will be devoted to general operations, maintenance and flood control to protect against another damaging flood on the Missouri next year. Senator Hoeven is on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and was also a conferee on the joint committee that reconciled the Senate and House versions of the bill. These dollars come in addition to other disaster assistance the senator has worked to secure. 

“This funding is important to address natural disasters across the country, and seeks to give the Corps and other agencies the resources they need to help communities like the Bismarck- Mandan area,” Hoeven said. “Now that the funding has been appropriated, we are working to make sure agencies like the Corps are responsive to these communities’ specific flood control and recovery needs.” 

Hoeven also invited John Remus, chief of hydraulic engineering for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District, to tour the river and meet with state and local leaders to address pressing flood protection issues challenging the Bismarck-Mandan area, including sandbar management and river bank stabilization. State and local leaders said they need resolve the issues ahead of next year’s spring runoff. 

Sandbar Management 

Bismarck and Mandan are concerned specifically about a large sandbar that has developed at the confluence of the Heart and the Missouri rivers, just south of the cities. State engineers fear the obstruction could cause ice jams during the spring runoff, backing water into Mandan and low-lying areas of south Bismarck, similar to what happened in the flood of 2009. A second sandbar has developed in front of the Bismarck sewer system’s discharge vent in south Bismarck, and city officials are concerned about the impact a freeze would have on the effluent flow. 

River Bank Stabilization 

A second issue Hoeven and local leaders pressed the Corps on is river bank stabilization. State officials say the flood caused significant damage to many of the Corps’ river bank stabilization efforts. Hoeven said the Corps needs to review and prioritize them in their list of projects. Bank stabilization is one of the primary flood control measures the Corps provides along the Missouri River in North Dakota. 

Hoeven and city officials said the solution to both problems is for the Corps to dredge the sandbars. The State Water Commission is also looking into alternative, backup measures such as dusting the rivers with salt next spring to enhance the melt. 

“The Corps needs to recognize that sandbar management and bank stabilization are critical components in effective flood protection for the upper basin of the Missouri River, and Corps officials need to make it a priority,” Hoeven said. “We worked hard to secure additional funding this year for the entire basin so the Corps would have the resources they needed to address flood control issues like this in North Dakota.” 

In early summer, the Corps released record amounts of water through the Missouri River’s levee and dam system, causing the river to breach its banks along its 550-mile route in North Dakota.  Hoeven has joined with other Missouri River Basin senators to press the Corps to secure funding and find solutions to the river’s flooding. 

Also attending the meeting were Governor Jack Dalrymple, Bismarck Mayor John Warford, Mandan Mayor Tim Helbling, Bismarck City Administrator Bill Woeken, Mandan City Administrator Jim Neubauer, State Water Commission Water Development engineer Bruce Engelhardt, Burleigh and Morton County commissioners and other local officials.