ND Delegation, Governor: Corps Will Respect Master Manual on Missouri River Releases, Retain Water on the Missouri

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, Congressman Rick Berg and Governor Jack Dalrymple today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to their request that the agency not increase releases from the Missouri River to meet the commercial needs of Mississippi River interests.

In a joint letter sent last week to President Barack Obama, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, the leaders of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Kansas made the case that “…unlawful releases of additional water from Missouri River reservoirs will only exacerbate the drought-related losses already experienced by the communities, tribes, and industries that rely on water from the Missouri River.”

The North Dakota leaders sent the letter in response to downstream interests who have requested that the President and Corps increase releases from, among others, the Garrison reservoir on the Missouri River. Flows in the Mississippi are at historic lows due to drought conditions in the basin.

Secretary Darcy Thursday announced the Corps’ decision in a letter to Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who was one of the Mississippi River senators who requested higher flows. The Corps said higher flows would deplete drinking water supplies, endanger wildlife habitats and drive up energy bills for hydropower users.

“While we sympathize with those on the Mississippi who are contending with drought conditions, we’re pleased to see that the Corps recognizes that it is not authorized to make such releases,” the delegation and governor said. “In any case, managing the river in a way that adversely impacts one community to benefit another is not the right approach.”