Jody Farhat, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division of the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, testified Wednesday in St. Joseph, MO. before the Committee on Small Business of the United States House of Representatives, chaired by Missouri Congressman Sam Graves on “Missouri River Management: Does it Meet the Needs of Small Business?
Excerpts of her Testimony follow:
The Corps strongly supports small businesses in the work we do on the river, both for repair and maintenance of the Corps facilities and construction activities required by the Missouri River Recovery Program. Because the greatest portion of this work and our offices are in rural areas, small businesses benefit.
Stakeholder participation in the Missouri River Recovery Program is essential in order to ensure that public values are incorporated into the decision process. To that end, the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee is comprised of a diverse group of advisory stakeholders. Ms. Farhat testified that The Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System is comprised of six dam and reservoir projects; hydroelectric power plants; levees (both federal and non-federal); and a 735-mile navigation channel extending from Sioux City, Iowa to the mouth near St. Louis, Missouri.
The Corps is charged with responsibly managing this complex system for eight authorized purposes: flood control, navigation, irrigation, hydropower, water quality control, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife enhancement. In addition, operation of the System must also comply with other applicable federal statutory and regulatory requirements, including the Endangered Species Act. All of the citizens we serve in the Missouri River Basin benefit in one or more ways from this system.
The reservoirs are designed to capture and store runoff from the upper Missouri River Basin in the spring of the year providing flood protection for over two million acres of land in the floodplain.
The Corps does not store water in the reservoirs specifically for the endangered and threatened species and the Master Manual storage allocations were not altered to facilitate the spring pulses.
Implementation of the Missouri River Recovery Program allows the Corps to meet the requirements of the 2003 Biological Opinion while serving all eight authorized purposes.
The Corps remains committed to operating the Mainstem System to serve the authorized project purposes, in a way that balances the competing needs of the Basin and meets our responsibilities under the law.
In addition to Farhat’s testimony, the Corps asserts:
Flood control and navigation are the dominant authorized purposes.
Since 1912, USACE has invested approximately $35 Billion for flood control, hydropower, and navigation through the implementation of the mainstem reservoirs and BSNP.USACE now maintains the system at a cost of approximately $110 Million annually, while concurrently implementing the recovery program. Average annual funding for the recovery program is approximately $67 million.
USACE is embarking on a Management Plan to look into the science we have gathered with MRRP and Mitigations Projects. This is an opportunity to determine how to most effectively implement actions on the Missouri River to meet the requirements of BiOp compliance and balance the economic needs of the basin.
The Corps works closely with State agencies and Federal agencies to comply with all Federal and State laws.
Press Release, August 26, 2013