Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), along with U.S. Representatives Sam Graves (Mo.) and Emanuel Cleaver II (Mo.), led a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to quickly and fully utilize the tools and resources Congress provided in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 and the FY2020 Energy and Water appropriations bill to reduce flood risk and improve flood protection along the Lower Missouri River.
In addition to Blunt, Graves, and Cleaver, the letter is signed by congressional members from the Lower Missouri River Basin states, including U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Josh Hawley (Mo.), and Jerry Moran (Kan.) and U.S. Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.), Adrian Smith (Neb.), Vicky Hartzler (Mo.), Ann Wagner (Mo.), Jake LaTurner (Kan.), Billy Long (Mo.), Jason Smith (Mo.), Sharice Davids (Kan.), and Cindy Axne (Iowa).
“We write today as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) develops implementation guidance for provisions included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020,” they wrote. “The inclusion of these provisions sends a clear signal that Congress not only recognizes the importance of the Lower Missouri River Basin but also that the USACE needs to change how it fundamentally manages the river and work in a manner to restore the lower Missouri River.”
In response to historic flooding along the Lower Missouri River in 2019, the WRDA bill, which was signed into law in December, included language to improve and expedite the planning, development, and construction of water development projects. In the letter, the lawmakers urge the Corps to issue implementation guidance consistent with Congressional intent behind the WRDA provisions and immediately utilize the flexibilities provided to advance critical flood control work.
The members continued, “Implementation guidance will enable the USACE to conduct important systemic planning simultaneously with studies focused on the implementation of solutions where it makes sense, and where local partners are ready to move forward. That way, the USACE can expedite critical solutions for this heavily flood-prone river while also being guided by comprehensive planning considerations and objectives. The Lower Missouri River Basin has many flood control projects that are ready and able to move forward today and would benefit greatly from the flexibilities provided. We urge the USACE to develop implementation guidance that allows this critical flood control work to begin immediately and without significant delay.”
Text of the letter can be found here.