Hoeven Meets with Army Corps to Ensure Flood Preparations for Spring

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today met with Col. Bill Leady, Acting Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Northwestern Division, to ensure the Corps is ready and doing all it can to prevent flooding this spring.

“As we move into the spring season, I reminded Col. Leady of the utmost need to keep a close eye on the snowmelt in the Upper Missouri River Basin and to make sure he is doing all he can to prevent and prepare for potential flooding in the region,” Hoeven said. “While the current forecast indicates we do not have a serious risk of spring flooding on the Missouri River because high levels of mountain snow are offset by very little snow on the plains, we know from past experiences that if we receive extensive rainfall on top of mountain snowmelt, flood risk can increase quickly. As such, it is imperative that Corps monitor the situation closely so we are well prepared for any potential flooding.”

The Corps continues to make repairs in response to the extensive 2011 floods, and Hoeven said he will use his position on the Appropriations Committee to see that the Corps has the resources it needs to continue its flood protection work in vulnerable areas across the state.

Hoeven also raised the issue of the Corps’ intent to charge North Dakota and other Missouri River states for surplus water.

“We continue to oppose charges for surplus water on the Missouri River,” Hoeven said.  “The Corps wants to charge for water that belongs to North Dakotans, and I remain committed to making it clear to the Corps that we believe such charges are unfair and will be vigorously challenged.”

The Corps of Engineers has indicated it will begin charging for the use of what it considers “surplus” water in Lake Sakakawea. Hoeven sponsored legislation in the recent Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is currently in front of a conference committee and is expected to pass Congress in the coming weeks. The measure would block the Corps of Engineers from charging for surplus water on the Missouri River mainstem dams.

Since 2010, the Corps has restricted access to Missouri River water and has proposed charging for storage at Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe to recover the costs of the nearly 60-year-old Garrison Dam project. Hoeven has been working with the Corps to resolve this issue, noting that the Corps can expect a vigorous legal challenge if it follows through on its proposal to charge North Dakotans for river water. North Dakota gave up prime lands to create the Garrison Dam in the early 1950s, and never ceded the right to use Missouri River water for municipal and industrial water supplies and irrigation.