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Eight Congressionally Authorized Purposes of the Missouri River Mainstem System

Presentation by Larry O'Donnell

June 10th, 2013

I’m going to be talking tonight about the authorized purposes. I could have gotten somebody from the Corp of Engineers to do that because they are actually in charge of the authorized purposes, but I figured I could speak more liberally about it, so everything you hear is my opinion and not necessarily the opinion of the Corp of Engineers or any of our partners, Fish and Wildlife, River Relief, all that kind of good stuff.

Basically, too much water, not enough water, the Eight Authorized Purposes. We will talk about what they are, what the history of them is, and how they conflict and work together with each other. Eight things to manage the Missouri River and not in any particular order. However, when we get into each one of these individually, you’ll see which ones came first: Flood control, navigation, irrigation which is actually throughout the basin but mainly in the upper basin and the upper basin being South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming where all the lakes are, hydropower, water supply and water quality control, recreation which is the one everybody loves, and fish and wildlife.

Some of those eight authorized purposes came earlier, but basically all of them were confirmed in the Pick-Sloan Plan of 1944. So Pick was with the Corp of Engineers. His idea for basically this stuff was a response to the flood of 1943. Pretty much the plan was dams here. We have mainstream reservoirs. We have one, two, three, a few dams, levees all the way basically from Sioux City down to St. Louis and these dams out here on some of the tributaries never got built. Pick, working for the Corp of Engineers, was mainly concerned with navigation so we’re looking at this channel here and that’s why we’ve got the levees and that’s why the impoundments are designed to provide water for navigation.

Sloan was with the Bureau of Land Management. Bureau of Land Management generally works out West. Generally works in more arid climates. Corp of Engineers has been tasked with engineering projects, not just rivers, but they do other major engineering projects. Whatever Congress authorizes them to do. They don’t decide on their own what they’re going to do. They only do what they are authorized to and congressional actions to do. There was a lot of pressure from the 1943 flood to Roosevelt to make some kind of decision. They were talking about doing a basin wide authority. It would be the Missouri River Basin Authority and they would have been in charge of everything. We had the Corp plan and then we got Sloan’s plan. He was more concerned with all the arid areas up here and we got a lot of land here that was designated to be irrigated with water from the mainstream reservoirs, all up and down the river. Dams everywhere. Dams not only on the main stem but all the little tributaries, too. It was basically to hold that water where it was so they could use it mainly for irrigation. Now they needed it for other things up there too and we will see that in a minute.

So we had these two plans both being presented at the same time. A lot of pressure to come up with one single plan and so it was a shotgun wedding and we have the Pick-Sloan Plan where they’re supposed to be managing the river for irrigation and saving water up in this area. At the same time, they’re managing the river for navigation and using water down in this area so you want all the water to stay up top and all the water to go down below at the same time.

Navigation was the Corp’s original task with the Missouri River. Louis and Clark got here in this area. They say the river was two miles wide. The thing about the river was it was a braided, shallow channel. Louis and Clark went a long ways but mostly that boat got pulled all the way with guys on the banks and ropes dragging that boat all the way up the river mainly because of the conditions of the river: The shallowness of the channel and where that channel goes. That channel would change overnight. Riverboats in the late 1800’s, out of 300 riverboats, 200 of them sunk. If a riverboat made it one trip up the river and back, they considered it had paid for itself. The average life of these boats was about three years and the main reason was because of the trees, the snags. In shallow waters, the trees would fall in eroding banks and would get stuck in the sand bottoms and so you’d have these snags sticking up. If you’re pulling your boat up the river, that’s not a big problem. You certainly don’t want to hit them but once we got steam power and you hit those snags, your boat was going to sink because you’re putting a giant hole in it and when you’re talking about the boat sinking, it may be is going down four or five feet. We’re not talking about the Titanic going all the way down or breaking in half or anything like that. We’re talking about climbing off the side and walking to the shore. Still, it was a problem.

The rivers were the main highways. The Missouri River was how the west was won. Kansas City is where it is because of the confluence of the Kansas River and the Missouri Rivers together and their ability to funnel traffic into the Wild West. So we were using those rivers all the time. Navigation was a big problem. It wasn’t reliable so in 1824, the first money from Congress came out to remove the large tree snags and that’s what they did. They came up with a couple of tree snag removing boats and between Kansas City and St. Louis, they started removing the snags. That went on for a while. A lot of conflicting interest because the river is so long. It is 2600 miles long, the longest river in the country. The Mississippi River is 2200 miles long. Everybody along that river had their own interests in mind so people living on the river, wanted to be able to use it for water. They wanted to be able to use it for transportation, but they also wanted to be able to live in the flood plain and keep that water out of their houses. Talk about trying to control the river versus managing the river. By the time everybody finally agreed and money was appropriated for navigation and one of the reasons most of the states agreed to navigation is because it also gave an element of flood control. Basically, navigation on the river was dead.

In 1869 from Omaha to St. Louis, the railroad ran along the river. The railroad was a lot more reliable than the river was. The tracks weren’t changing position overnight. There weren’t high spots, low spots. The train wasn’t going to get stuck on the tracks. It was just a whole lot more reliable than the river was. Nevertheless, for a long time, they had wanted that river to be navigable and so there was a push on to make it navigable even though it took 50 years for it to happen, so basically, in the 40’s when the channelization was pretty much completed, barge traffic was way down. Riverboats were way down. The rivers were not a means of transportation anymore. People were using the trains and then of course you get here to Kansas City and we’ve got the three trails and so they were taking the trails out and settling the West, but all of that culminated in 1945 and there was a history with this too, but basically they ended up in 1945 with a navigation channel from Sioux City to St. Louis that was 9 feet deep and 300 feet wide. Originally, they started from Kansas City to St. Louis and we’re looking at a 6 foot channel. They eventually got authorization, not money, but authorization to do a channel from Kansas City to Sioux City. Back up a little bit, all of their science that this was based on was based on just a few years of observation, but there was a huge demand to do something and so this is what they thought would work and this is what they tried doing and that’s why they started this navigation program. By the time they decided to do the channel from Kansas City up to Sioux City, they realized that 6 feet wasn’t going to work and they really needed to do a 9 foot channel and that basically changed the lower river. They didn’t have that completed but they changed the design so they designed it for a 9 foot channel for barge traffic. Now you will still see some of this down in the lower Missouri, Jefferson City, and actually closer even to St. Louis. Up here in Kansas City, I think there’s one barge a month that comes through and that’s up from several years ago. Recently, the Port Authority of Kansas City reopened the Kansas City port. They don’t have any barges coming here yet. They hope that that will start to happen.

Flood control was actually authorized by Congress in the 1917 Flood Control Act. That’s the first time that Congress said, okay, the Federal Government should be responsible for flood control. Before that, it was up to the individuals. It was a local thing. It was up to whoever could do whatever and so then you have those conflicting interests. You know, you might get money for navigation on the river, $10 million, but it’s got to go 2,000 miles so you have these special interest groups and Kansas City was extremely strong in that. Basically, all of this channelization stuff got done through efforts from Kansas Citians and it would ebb and flow. There would be a large push on it, then it would slow down, they’d pick it up again, tons and tons of politics. Researching all this stuff, I basically had to decide how much to leave out because it just gets totally convoluted in who’s special interest is what at what given time. What money are they going after. How is that affecting what the Corp has actually been authorized to do versus what the cities are trying to do for themselves.

So while the cities were interested in navigation, they were mostly interested in flood control because the people that were living there were living in the flood plains, as we have a tendency to do now even still. Floods were a problem so they thought the traditional approach of letting the river run where it actually does run and leave those flood plains open was to put levees up. All a levee is going to do is where that water that wants to go where it used to go can’t go there anymore so it’s going to push it down river and it’ll go where it can as soon as it does. We saw that in the 2011 flood. Places like Hamburg, Iowa, which actually ended up breaking the levee. Navigation was authorized early, early on.

Flood control came next. With that, Pick-Sloan Plan and there were a series of reservoirs. Basically, you’ve got a cup this big and this is how they’re trying to manage flood control with these reservoirs so they have exclusively for flood control 6% of the total volume of all the reservoirs up there. I think there are five reservoirs and seven dams or something and then multiple uses so they’ve got a total of 16 million acre feet of storage capacity for flood control. They have to have that every year and yet they have to have enough water for navigation. The navigation season runs basically March through November and so in order for them to have this amount of water, they have to keep that in the reservoirs. They have to keep this storage in here for the water coming in to control floods, but at the same time, they have to keep enough water in there to be able to release enough to keep that 9 foot deep, 300 foot wide channel for navigation that varies considerably as to the value of it when they first came up with the plans. There was a whole lot more and now there’s not near as much although there is more now than there was five years ago. They’ve got this whole series of dams and they’re all different size cups and they all hold different amounts. Now Gavin’s Point is the last one but there’s no cup there at Gavin’s Point because Gavin’s Point is basically water flows through it. It is a flood control structure but the storage occurs in all of these other reservoirs up here so they have to look at all of these reservoirs. They have to look at what’s coming into them so you’re looking at what’s coming in to Fort Peck along the main stems but also along the tributaries. You get up to Garrison and you’ve got a lot more tributaries here down to South Dakota. So Fort Peck is looking at this area here. Garrison is looking at this area plus this area and on and on and so this is where that high math comes in. How do you keep it here and yet be able to use it down there and then we have the 2011 flood.

Some of the other purposes up there: Hydropower. Hydropower is a big one. This is a chart of the different reservoirs and the amount of hydropower that they can tend to. They can generate what is what they call dependable capacity and what those plants are actually generating is also dependent on the amount of water that’s in the reservoirs and how much water can actually pass through the power plants. In the 2011 flood, there was so much water and there was such a threat to the dams that they were just releasing water. It wasn’t going through these plants. The plants didn’t have the capacity. You would think of hydropower and not having enough water and not producing enough electricity of what their potential is, but you’ve also got to look at it the other way where they have too much water and can’t produce. There’s another one of these balancing acts and that’s just with hydropower and then you’ve got to balance it off with the amount of water coming into the system versus the amount of water that you’ve got to put out of the system.

Irrigation. With Pick-Sloan, the idea with all of the upper basin states considerably drier than the lower basin states, irrigation was a big thing and so Pick-Sloan Plan promised 5.3 million acres of irrigation but by 1982, they only had 560,000 acres. It’s not that that water is sitting there not being used, but there’s all that fluctuation. In the late 80’s there were huge droughts to the point where I think it was Fort Peck and I must have heard this story 20 times from different places about the guy who retired and got his bass farm on the shores of Fort Peck and by the end of the drought, the water was a mile away from his bass fishing resort. He wished the Corp kept more water in the reservoir. All of these things, the upper basin and the lower basin, basically there is a lot of conflict.

So you’re working for water supply downstream from Sioux City which is just a little bit downstream from South Dakota and Gavin’s Point, the Lewis and Clark reservoir, the first big impoundment on the river. You’ve got 40 major municipal and industrial uses and this is the Kansas City water intake and so they have to have enough water for that. They have to have enough water so that these pumps can pump water out of the river and then they can purify it and we can drink it. I didn’t even do anything about the slides but it occurred to me now that one of the other issues with not only the amount of water that’s available for all of the industries and municipalities to take water out of the river, but it’s also the level of the bottom of the river and in Kansas City, and I haven’t heard what’s happened with the 2011 flood, but since 1990, the bottom of the river here has dropped 10 feet. It doesn’t mean it’s 10 feet deeper. That means the top of the river has dropped 10 feet. That means that the water used to be right here so there are a considerable number of municipalities and actually I think I said that was Kansas City but that’s WaterOne still out of the Missouri River, but it’s Johnson County’s water. It’s not as good as what we’re drinking and they’ve spent millions of dollars on a pumping system where they can actually lower their pump so that they can get the water out of the river because what happens is that bottom gets so low and then their pumps are not able to do it and so they’ve got to lower their pumps and I believe it’s these guys that have the pumps that are actually on tracks that they can lower depending on the river level and you’ve got power plants and businesses that take water out of the river. They have to meet certain requirements based on the Clean Water Act for discharging that water back into the river, but they’re still discharging into the river. Generally, they have to discharge cleaner water than the water that they’re taking out of the river but you’ve got a water supply and then water quality. I don’t really know what the Corp does for water quality other than put a lot of dirt in the water which is a whole different story. It comes with habitat restoration and the Clean Water Act and keeping sediment out of our rivers and streams.

Well that sounds great except this was the second dirtiest river or most sediment laden river in the world until we did all this channelization to it. We cut the amount of sediment in it by 80% and we still call it the big muddy. All of that sediment had a definite function. The number one biggest thing is the Mississippi Delta. It was basically formed by sediment from a Missouri River. How do you balance no sediment with a historical need for a lot of sediment and then we also start getting into fish and wildlife and the palate sturgeon and there seems to be a need for sediment for that fish. They’re doing habitat restoration, trying to basically make up for a lot of the habitat damage that this original plan did so they’re cutting shoots. They’re taking bends in the river that used to be wetlands and they’re buying from willing sellers and they’re cutting side shoots through them that flood during high waters, flood the wetland area and create habitat. One of the things they were doing with the shoots was you just start it and then you would let the river clear it for you. You would do a little bit of digging. They were putting the sediment back into the river and the State of Missouri stopped them because they were putting sediment in the river. It took several years and the study by the National Science Academy to prove to the State of Missouri that it was okay for the Corp of Engineers to put that sediment into the river and actually it would be better for the river if more sediment went into it.

So when we’re talking water quality, we’re basically talking sediment. There’s agricultural runoff, herbicides and fertilizers, all of that basically comes back to sediment and farming right up to the edge of the stream makes you susceptible. You’ve got a shallow root system and your banks are susceptible to erosion and so farming up to the edge of the stream actually encourages erosion especially with the price of crops today. Farmers want to farm right up to the edge of the stream and then they want to complain when it falls into the river. That’s the way they work. A lot of that land that they’re farming on is the bottom land. The reason it’s so rich is because it flooded all the time and it’s got all that sediment from the river which makes it a plenty fertile plain. You can’t just take the benefits and not expect the rest. The good soil doesn’t just appear. It has to be replenished constantly. The flood of 2011, the best quote I heard was a farmer down in Missouri going, “you know I’ve lived here for 50 years before they did this project. We used to flood every other year and now we’re flooding you know once every 10 or 15 years. What’s not working?” He understood the river and understands that the rivers flood. That’s why they have flood plains and you can’t just ignore that and expect it to go away. As we’ve seen with the 2011 flood, you can’t just put it all in a pipe and expect it to go away because the river is going to go where the river wants to go and typically it’s going to go where it has gone.

Fish and wildlife. All of this navigation and flood control, everything is focused on people, immediate economics. There’s a tendency to deny the value of fish and wildlife. That bird right there is not going to spend anything in your local store, but a lot of people coming to look at that bird will. In 1934, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act was the first act that said that the Corp and it’s projects needs to pay attention to fish and wildlife and their impact on those habitats. In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed. It is just basically the same thing. You need to pay attention to the impacts of your projects on habitat and on the wildlife. The navigation and the flood control all came first. There wasn’t any thought about fish and wildlife and actually we did a lot of damage to it by getting rid of all the wetlands, confining the flood plains, not letting the river flood, and create that habitat for the wildlife to the point where the Fish and Wildlife Service approached the Corp of Engineers and said, “According to the Endangered Species Act, you guys need to stop what you’re doing and start paying attention to what you’ve done.” They issued a biological opinion and the Corp ended up agreeing with that but it wasn’t until like six years later. Basically, their biological opinion was that the way that the river was being managed was detrimental to fish and wildlife and in particular, these three species that were on the endangered species list.

People will talk about the Pallid Sturgeon , the Least Turn, and the Piping Plover. They like to dismiss it as two birds and a fish and why are we doing all of this for two birds and a fish? Well, the Endangered Species Act, while it deals with specific species that are endangered, those are all indicators. They’re the first ones to go. Destroying this, it’s not just these guys. They’re indicator specifies and we can see by the effect on them that this problem can become severe and the lack of habitat, especially for our migratory birds and fish, that the traditional fish that were in the river is a major problem and so Corp and Fish and Wildlife got together. The Corp agreed to do habitat restoration. Now habitat restoration is not just those bends and putting inside shoots. When they did the navigation, they put in all these training dykes. They basically took this wide, wide river, made a bunch of wooden jacks, put them out into the river in rows with willow mats in between them so that when the river rose up, went over that stuff, it would slow it down and all that sediment would drop out. Within a period of 30 years, we had created over 30,000 acres of new land and cut off a bunch of the river, cut off the bends. I’m not quite sure how much. I don’t remember but we basically changed all that.

The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act and eventually the endangered species act, but basically looking at our wildlife what we used to have and what we do have and why don’t we have what we used to have, so yea, and there’s the obvious stuff with channelization and that would be cutting off all the wetlands and all of that backwater habitat, that slow water which is good for the fish spawning and the sediment. It turns out that with the Pallid Sturgeon, sediment seems to play a major role in the young being able to survive because what they do, they basically float down river. They move up and down in the water as they float down river and the feed that way. Well, the sediment made them invisible to predators. We’ve decreased the amount of sediment that the big fish can see them and so they get eaten so they’ve been introducing all kinds of Pallid Sturgeon. Not having the kind of success that they thought they would just by creating the slow water, the backwater habitat for them to spawn in. Sediment is a big problem and a huge issue. All of those dams, all that sediment is still coming down and those lakes only have a certain design life based on how much sediment will come down before it fills them up and they’re at the point now where they would like to get rid of the sediment but how do you do that? I mean you’re talking about trying to basically pump it over the dam. That’s not really a natural approach because then you’re heavily loading the amount of sediment but the sediment is starving of the river seems to becoming a lot larger issue than what we originally thought it would be and that’s probably the major habitat alteration on the river besides taking all of that backwater stuff away is changing the amount of sediment in the river.

Recreation, all kinds of recreation up and down this river. It’s a huge, long river. Up in Montana, you’ve got these beautiful views and lots of sightseeing. You’ve got the shallower waters in three main tributaries that form the river and so there’s a lot of fly fishing up there in Montana and on the Yellowstone River for brown trout. You’ve got paddlers and this is becoming way more important these days. Basically here in Missouri starting with the 340 canoe race from Kaw Point to St. Charles, Missouri, 340 miles. I think there is up to 600 participants now. They come from foreign countries around the world to paddle on this river. The paddling has become a blue water trail so paddling and recreation and the motorboats. We don’t see much of that around here mainly because we don’t have on the river fuel access. The farther up river you get, we see a whole lot more of it. Omaha actually has a marina in their downtown that they consistently have problems with with that sediment. The marina floods, the entrance to it fills with sediment. They’re constantly having issues with that. Omaha and up Sioux City and farther up north, lots and lots of motorized recreation on the river. You’ve got all of this recreation, 60 million visitor hours and that’s just in the mainstem lakes up above the South Dakota border. One of the things that we have a tendency to not pay as much attention to and devalue it, we do these studies and find out that recreation is actually a whole lot more important than some of these others to people.

In 1944, they came up with Eight Authorized Purposes and they’ve been operating with those in mind ever since then. In 2010, mainly due to a Senator in South Dakota, Congress said, “you know, we really need to look at these Eight Authorized Purposes and see if they’re all still pertinent.” And a lot of this, too, came out of the Fish and Wildlife. With the biological opinion and the decision that they needed to do something to help those endangered species. With Fish and Wildlife, it wasn’t just creating the habitat, but also the benefits of those particular species. They came up with the surge. Trying to mimic spring floods and late summer runoff with a pulse of an extra amount of water released from the dams to basically flood the sandbars, create more sandbars and create more habitat. There’s a whole lot of issue over that. Farmers in the downstream states complain about the spring pulse. These pulses don’t happen unless there’s enough water in the reservoirs to actually do them, but the pulse is minimal. They talk about, you’re going to flood us out and it’s springtime and we’ve got floods anyway and you’re putting more water in the river, and what if it rains down here, but the pulse lasts like a day. You can’t even tell that the pulse is happening so there’s a lot of misconceptions and people deliberately misconstrue what’s going on to promote their own purposes, which brings us to Missouri and the congressional delegation. I mean, it makes sense to me after 70 years to see if you should still be running the same operating plan, but Missouri thought well, people’s opinions have changed and they like that fish and those birds and they just want to promote that and they don’t care about our navigation, basically. Navigation is the thing that Missouri is constantly pushing, water for navigation, and up in this part of the state, it’s basically nonexistent. It is important down in the lower part of the basin in Missouri, and then of course you get to the Mississippi.

The Authorized Purposes Study did a whole series of public meetings up and down the river getting people’s inputs on the Eight Authorized Purposes getting peoples comments. I went to a couple of those meetings and you’ve got people up there going we don’t need any stinking barges. We need fish and birds and you’ve got other people up there going, “I bring my asphalt up here once a month and I need that barge. You’re talking about my livelihood.” And they all think they are cross purposes but we’re all talking about water and the amount of water and what we do with the river. Recreation really benefits from that navigation channel. The fish and wildlife on one hand, you can look at it and say well we’re fixing the mess that we made to start with but on the other hand you can look at it and say well we’re learning from our mistakes. We’re starting to negate some of those things like how much we changed that river because it’s really been managed for flood control and for navigation.

The other stuff that they use for the reservoirs up in the upper basin is essential to those people up there but traditionally the entire river and the whole Pick-Sloan Plan has been based on navigation and flood control and so they did a couple of surveys and it looked like people were not very much interested in navigation anymore and in one of the surveys, fish and wildlife took the top spot and then the other survey, flood control took the top spot and so they’re just like any other survey, it depends on who you ask and where you ask. The result of all of this was that Missouri was afraid that the management of navigation would get changed and so they introduced a bill and they got funding pulled from this study so this was a five year study that went one year. They did scoping meetings and then they got feedback on what they’d come up with the scoping and that’s where it sits right now. There’s a website and you can go to the home page of that website but every link on it is broken. You can’t get the study. You can’t get anything else. You might be able to find it through other means, but basically even that website shut down. There’s no funding for it. That was all in response to the 2011 flood.

The Corp of Engineers, General McMann, last year wrote an editorial after doing all of these meetings up and down the river and I’ll tell you went to some where people were there calling them murderers because of the officer that died at Bean Lake and trying to blame that on the Corp of Engineers. The guy got up and started talking about how much cornflakes they were taking out of little kids’ mouths because they couldn’t grow corn in that flooded part of the land. The general opinion is the best fix for this is to look at how the river used to work and it needs more room. Missouri wanted to squelch everything and only do flood control and build more levees and build higher levees. Well all that does is push the problem downstream.

The 1993 flood was basically from rain in the lower basin. Levees broke all over the place and yet, I forget the number of how many more miles of levees we have now than we did in 1993 because we just did not pay attention and you have politicians in the cities and the counties along the river and they’re looking at that flood plain and they’re looking at economic development down to St. Charles at the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi on the northwest corner. It was all flood plain and they say that’s actually what saved St. Louis in 1993. The river was within inches of overtopping the levees in downtown St. Louis. That’s not there anymore. That flood storage is not there anymore. They’ve got levees there. They’ve got levees all up and down the river and they ended up having to make decisions like are we going to destroy the farmland in Southern Missouri or are we going to destroy the town in Cairo, Illinois? All based on our historic response to floods. Try to build a bigger pipe instead of looking at how the river actually worked and setting those levees back so when you start talking about levee setbacks though, you’re talking about taking land out of production and it can be farmland and in the State of Missouri, they’re talking about oh there was drought last year and how essential was the farmland along the river because that was fruitful land because of the water source right there. If we moved the levees back, we wouldn’t have been able to feed those people. We wouldn’t have been flooding those other people either.

Anyway, the General came up with many of the same points that were made 17 years earlier after the 1993 flood in the Galloway Report. We’ve got to give the river room to be a river. After the 2011 flood, now this is historic because this is an instance where the Governor’s all agreed, all the state agreed. Now they agreed that the other uses, the eight uses, were all fine and dandy, but flood control should be the priority. Now, of course, that’s based on a 500 year event. The greatest one in history, one we could not predict, so then where are you. You’re managing the river for what it’s done historically on an average and what you think is going to happen this year or are you managing it for a once in a lifetime event that probably won’t occur again. Some people would have us managed for that one event, but the 2011 flood was not caused by two birds and a fish.

Recently, the State of Missouri again, four Republicans from Missouri’s Congressional Delegation introduced a Bill to strip fish and wildlife from the list of the Eight Authorized Purposes. Well, I’m sure they’d like to see that happen but this is basically a bunch of showboating. They can’t do that according to the law. Corp is responsible for projects, their impact on the fish and wildlife. Not just on the Missouri River but everything that they do. You can’t just decide that we’re going to throw that one thing out. The reasoning behind this is the Corp should not have to waste precious resources on building wildlife habitats as if the flood was caused by wildlife by habitat rehabilitation. I started to say earlier, it’s not just bends that they’re doing, but they’re also notching those dykes which allows sediment to settle behind those dykes and create more habitat and doing some other things, what they call shallow water habitat. Everything I’ve done with the Corp, this is what we’re authorized for, can’t do this, but we can do this. We don’t have money for that, but we have this pot of money over here that we could do this with and it’s all based on what Congress has decided to do at basically any given moment and told the Corp to do and then what they’ve allowed funding to do so if you took all of the money that they spent on habitat restoration away, it’s not going to go to building more levee and if you build more levees, you’re just creating more problems but this is the kind of thing historically the states have all run into, headbutting against each other and they don’t want to move so the Corp has said that environmental spending is required and it doesn’t reduce spending for other purposes. I mean that’s just the way they work and it doesn’t matter what representatives from the State of Missouri say about it or how much they tell lies about it to their constituents in order to promote themselves. The facts are the facts. You could take all of that away. It had nothing to do with the flood at all. There were no projects that were put on hold because there was habitat restoration being done. There was no flood control that was not done because of habitat restoration, and if they would have let the habitat restoration go on, it allows for more flood plain so it would actually benefit flood control.

What’s needed? It’s been a long time. We have different priorities. When all this stuff started, the river was our highway. The river was the way of getting around. It was essential to navigation. People used it to move West. They used it for transportation and not just moving product. So over the past half century, social and economic changes have shown a need for comprehension review of the operational priorities. Just all of this bickering and in-fighting has shown the same thing. We need to review the priorities. People are afraid, especially the State of Missouri, of reviewing the priorities. Now if you truly thought your priority was the most important and the most important to people and the most important to economics, why would you be afraid that people would say no to that because you know that that’s not the truth. We’re putting an X-amount of money into it and it’s not paying for itself. It never has paid for itself. It was a great idea to start with. Nobody could get together on it in any kind of timely fashion so by the time that navigation actually happened, it wasn’t needed. The only thing that is going to save this is stakeholders working together. Now you can tell the consensus is achieved because everybody’s pissed off and nobody got what they wanted. Defunding the study, pretending there is no issue when you know there is an issue. You’re creating an issue at the same time you’re trying to say there is no issue and that it shouldn’t be funded and that we shouldn’t pay attention to anybody but what I want on the river is not going to work. What is going to end up happening is probably more of what’s already happened and it’s going to take things like the 2011 flood or some other major climate catastrophe that make us actually look at how we can make things better and all of these authorized purposes work together.

Fracking was mentioned in the thing that got sent out and I don’t know much about Fracking in North Dakota, but I know enough to know that no fracking way. This is a fracking well basically blowing backwards because of a broken pipe. In fracking, they inject their proprietary solution, and who knows what that is and I’m not even sure if they’re telling the EPA now or not because there was a lot of controversy over that, well we can’t tell you really what’s in it, but basically they sink a pipe. This is lined all the way down. It goes down through the water table and down to where the shale is. It goes down and curves. This is solid. And then they inject chemicals in there that cause these fractures and that allows the oil to be released from the shell and they pipe it out. The problem with fracking is all of this solid pipe that’s going through the sensitive area, if this breaks, you’re in the water table. If this fracture is higher than you realize, we’re not down there seeing how this is but we’re guessing how this works. If it fractures differently, then the stuff starts surfacing and they’ve got places in Pennsylvania where it’s surfacing into ground water and it’s coming into people’s wells. It’s actually coming into rivers. It comes out of people’s taps. It’s not as safe as they would lead us to believe and of course this is all in the name of short term economic gain for a few. We don’t care what happens to the common good. So fracking in North Dakota in an area where you have limited water resources and you’re talking about putting this stuff into the ground water and then the other big major problem is they pump it back out and they have to dispose of it. It’s too toxic to take to a sewer plant so they don’t really have any place to dispose of it so there’s all kinds of problems with fracking and that would just be a whole different total issue and another total water use and I don’t think that will ever happen.

Some of the other things that probably won’t happen, some of the irrigation ideas, there’s a plan to take water in North Dakota out of the Missouri river basin and pump it to the Red River basin which flows north into Canada and then they can use that water to irrigate the Red River basin. There was a plan they just recently released like all of the pie in the sky plans. At one time, there was a plan to take water between here and the Platte River and put it in a pipe and give it to Denver. Denver is actually in the Missouri river watershed but they’re doing the same thing with the Colorado River. They’re taking their drinking water out of the Colorado River so they’re taking water out of one watershed and putting it into another. At any given time, that is not a good idea. You’re disrupting the system. Historically our best bet has been to go back and look at how the system worked before we started impacting it and trying to figure out how we cannot reproduce that, but mimic that and that’s where you get into things like rain gardens and native plants and letting water soak down into the ground for water quality. That’s a whole other story as is fracking.