By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Members of Congress have been put on notice: the threat of flooding continues in the Midwest.
A Congressional subcommittee hearing held by Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves has discussed the continuing threat and suggested management of the Missouri River needs to change. Graves says Midwesterners keep hammering the same point home every time they have the opportunity.
“We talk about this time, after time, after time and the Corps doesn’t seem to understand or doesn’t get it. That system was designed for flood control and it needs to be managed for flood control otherwise it does not work,” Graves tells St. Joseph Post.
Graves says the Army Corps of Engineers has too many priorities as it tries to manage the Missouri River, including wildlife habitat and upstream recreation.
Graves has sponsored a resolution that would keep the Corps and Fish and Wildlife from spending money trying to improve the breeding habitat of the pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River.
“We’ve spent millions and millions of dollars trying to do these experiments, but yet the Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife they can’t show any progress whatsoever,” according to Graves. “So, we’re trying to say, quit spending money on this when you can’t even show if it’s working or not.”
Graves says Congressional spending habits display the misplaced priorities. He says $12 billion will be spent to repair levees with $31 billion will be spent on habitat reclamation.
Graves says the Midwest is strong, but it could use a little help from Washington.
“Those of us in north Missouri are pretty resilient when it comes to this, but the Corps of Engineers isn’t helping any, that’s for sure, when it comes to the management of the river,” Graves says. “Now, with the recovery, hopefully they’re going to do a much better job of that and getting these levees fixed.”
Graves says he and other Midwestern members of Congress will continue to push the Corps of Engineers pretty hard on repairing the more than 100 levees damaged by this year’s flooding.
Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha has awarded a nearly $2.8 million contract to repair a levee in southwestern Iowa.
The contract calls for the elevation of the levee breached near Percival and Hamburg during historic flooding in March to be raised from 2 to 4.5 feet. The breach near Percival was closed last month and work to close the one at Hamburg is nearly done.
That levee breach sent floodwaters from the Missouri River bluff to Hamburg, shutting down I-29 for months.