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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Next week, LR 288 will have its public hearing. For the first time in Nebraska’s history, members of the public will have the opportunity to publicly express their concerns regarding the Missouri River’s management by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before the Nebraska Legislature. Some of you may have seen the statement posted to my Facebook page on Sunday, January 27. For those of you who did not, my concerns about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mismanagement of the Missouri River are outlined below.
From 2011 onwards, our region of Southeast Nebraska, Northwest Missouri, and Southwest Iowa have experienced several major floods. For example, the town of Hamburg, Iowa, has experienced three “100-year” floods in the last decade. This is due to a number of factors, including poorly-timed releases from dams in the Upper Basin of the Missouri Rivers, outdated levee standards that largely have not been overhauled in 80 years to reflect modern runoff trends, and a failure by the Corps to adequately lobby for the changes it has deemed necessary since the 1993 floods.
There has recently been an agreement announced between the governors of Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas to split the cost of a study with the Corps on how we can prevent future flooding. This should not be necessary. The Corps has had decades to address flooding and now surrounding states are forced to use our tax dollars to pressure a federal agency to do its job.
This “study” will take around three years to complete and several more years after that to implement. It is designed to collect data which the Corps should already have. Moreover, conclusions from this study will likely lead to the exact same recommendations that have been unsuccessfully supported by the Corps for nearly three decades.
My Facebook post made it up the chain of command with the Corps, and Major General Scott Spellmon, the Deputy Commanding General of the Civil and Emergency Response Projects and nominee to be the next national Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, gave me a call last week to discuss my concerns. However, my position on the Corps’ failure to take actions to mitigate flooding along the Missouri River remain unchanged.
My resolution, LR 288, intends to send the message to Congress and the Crops to reprioritize flood control on the Missouri River. LR 288 is set to have a public hearing on Wednesday, February 5th in the Natural Resource Committee. If passed by the Nebraska Legislature, this resolution will be a public condemnation of the Corps inaction and will be delivered to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Pentagon and Nebraska’s federal delegation.
In addition to LR 288, my office continues to lobby the federal government for adequate flood recovery resources and adoption of proactive measures to mitigate future flooding, work with my colleagues in the state government to mobilize our resources to help our area recover, and meet with local officials to assess needs and best position District 1 for the most recovery funding possible. We are not out of the woods for potential 2020 flooding, and the relationships built now will continue to benefit our area for the years of recovery left before us.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: email@example.com.