Midwest Senators Introduce Missouri River Legislation

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran has introduced legislation with Senators Roy Blunt, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer, Chuck Grassley, Josh Hawley, Pat Roberts and Ben Sasse to overhaul the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ process for managing water resources projects along the lower Missouri River system.

The Lower Missouri River Flood Prevention Program Act, cosponsored by all of the senators from the lower Missouri River basin states, would establish a new program that would require the USACE to implement a system-wide approach to water development projects to reduce flood risk and improve flood protection along the lower Missouri River.

“After years of inadequate flood control proposals and funding, flooding along the lower Missouri River continues to increase in intensity, devastating homes, farms and businesses,” said Sen. Moran.

“Rather than taking ineffective reactionary measures after severe flooding occurs, this legislation would provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the necessary tools to create a comprehensive, long-term solution instead of another temporary fix. This legislation would streamline the process of flood control project construction within the lower Missouri River Basin, empowering the Army Corps to mitigate flooding along the river to make certain Kansans’ homes and businesses are better protected in the future.”

The proposal provides greater efficiencies and streamlining with regard to how the USACE plans for and manages Missouri River water resource development projects from inception to completion. Specifically, the Lower Missouri River Flood Prevention Program Act would:

  • Require the Secretary of the Army to administer a program to study, design, and construct water resources development projects, and modify completed water projects, to provide flood protection to affected communities;
  • Direct program authority to encompass 735 miles of the Missouri River (from Sioux City, Iowa, to the mouth of the river);
  • Require the Secretary of the Army to develop a system plan for reducing flood risk and improving flood resiliency;
  • Provide authority, after development of a project feasibility report, for the Secretary of the Army to construct projects where the federal share does not exceed $75 million. This would streamline and facilitate the USACE’s ability to initiate feasibility studies and planning for projects within a certain funding threshold where the agency traditionally has to seek separate authorization for these types of activities;
  • Require congressional authorization for projects where the federal share exceeds $75 million. The federal cost-share for feasibility reports and construction would be 80%;
  • Require consultation with applicable federal and state agencies, tribes, and stakeholders.