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Governors to meeting on flood management

posted on July 22, 2011


 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Governors and representatives from at least six Missouri River states will meet next month in Nebraska to discuss flood control issues.

     Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman set the meeting for Aug. 19 in Omaha, issuing invitations Thursday to the other states.

     "There have been concerns throughout the flooding season about water management issues related to the Missouri River," said Heineman's spokeswoman, Jen Rae Hein. "This is an opportunities for the governors of states affected by the Missouri River to come together and discuss issues related to river management."

     By late Thursday afternoon, Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota had accepted. A representative for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead also plans to attend.

     Govs. Jay Nixon of Missouri and Brian Schweitzer of Montana also were invited, but had not indicated whether they would attend. A spokesman for Nixon the Missouri governor was checking to make sure the meeting will work into his schedule.

     Heineman has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to attend the meeting.

     The corps has been criticized for its management of the Missouri River reservoirs in the Upper Midwest that have been swollen by heavy spring snowmelt and rains. Some dam releases have been at record levels. The corps has said the reservoirs were in good shape to handle spring runoff until record rains fell upstream in May.

     Specific issues to be discussed at the meeting are still being worked out, a news release from Heineman's office said, but management of the river is certain to be among the topics.

     Earlier this month, Branstad urged governors in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to discuss forming a new group of downstream states. A letter he wrote indicated he believes the Army Corps of Engineers favors upstream states in its management of the river.

     Upstream states want more river water for recreation, and downstream states want it for barge traffic.

     Daugaard recently said he believes all Missouri River states can find a way to work together on river issues. In response to Branstad's letter, the South Dakota governor said he thinks all the states have much in common regarding the river. He noted that the states have worked together on the response to this year's flooding.

     Asked why the meeting is being held in August, when floodwaters are expected to begin receding, Hein said Heineman felt the focus should stay on helping residents during the peak of the flooding in June and July rather than meeting.

     "There were certainly questions raised about river management then, but he felt those should be discussed at a later date," Hein said. "This meeting is kind of the opportunity to have some of those discussions."

 


Tags: floods government Missouri River water