Governors Want More Control/Input Over Missouri River

Thursday night's two storms were a double whammy on the already overflowing Missouri River.

Water levels in Missouri rose almost 19 inches.

That comes from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who along with six other governors are calling for better future management of the river when flooding could occur.

It is a coalition many thought would never happen.

Led by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, the leaders of seven states in the Missouri River basin are now of one voice.

"Flood control must be the highest priority in the operation of the Missouri River," Heineman said.

The representatives from Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming, Missouri and North and South Dakota signed a letter to the Secretary of the Army demanding more input into managing the Missouri River.

"The corps must do a better job in the future to prevent the flooding of cities, farms, businesses, ranches, power structures and other areas of public infrastructure," Heineman said.

The governors met with corps representatives in a closed door meeting Friday.

All say protecting people and property from flooding is the main concern.

"It is the highest priority," Heineman said. "I think they will listen to us. I think most of our federal delegations feel the same way."

Managing the river was never before a group effort.

Each state had its main interest, be it navigation, recreation, or the environment.

"These issues and the other purposes have been points of disagreement between the states," Nixon said. "Points where the states have used that wedge of disagreement as an excuse not to get direct action."

"There was division on the Missouri River basin and there was constant fighting," Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said. "So you're not getting things moving forward. What changes here and what I was really jumping on is now you've got a united basin."

"This is not just a one time meeting," Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds said. "This will be an on-going effort to make sure that it stays in the forefront and that we're committed to making this happen."

"All those things are going to bring a lot to bear on the corps," South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard said. "And I think we'll increase greatly the likelihood that they're going to respond the way we want them to."

Meanwhile, those most affected by the Flood of 2011 share Hamburg, Iowa resident Dave Owen's sentiments.

"I can only hope that the corps has learned its lesson," he said.

Representatives from the corps were not at the press conference.

The governors are calling for an outside investigation into how the corps releases water upstream and better data on flows released from the Rocky Mountain states.

They also want to look into an early warning system that can help those living in potential flood areas.

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