Monday, February 28, 2011

Missouri River Levees Discussed

by Marshall White
Originally published February 27, 2011 
in the St. Joseph News-Press
Original Link:

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Spring is three weeks away, but it’s not too early to start worrying about flooding on the Missouri River.

Recent warm weather caused a spate of draining from the plains snow pack and moved river ice out of the system.

That was a good thing, said Jody Farhat, the Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River water management chief.

“Essentially, full flood storage capacity is available,” she told members of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association.

State officials and area farmers have their doubts.

Missouri has requested that navigation season open early in part because there is a high likelihood of floods, said Sara Pauley, Missouri Department of Natural Resources director.

Last year’s flooding left many levees in poor condition, and the National Weather Service is predicting a wet spring.

The result could be more flooding, said Mike Wells, a Missouri River specialist with DNR.

The Corps of Engineers planned two spring pulses this year to increase Missouri River flow.

“I’m betting we won’t do the March pulse,” Mrs. Farhat, the official with her hand on the spigot, said.

The Corps of Engineers increases the water flow to assist the pallid sturgeon, but a recent study shows that the fish doesn’t need a pulse, Ms. Pauley said.

“Science now knows that the sturgeon’s spawning cues are increased daylight and water temperature, not a river pulse,” she said.

A spring rise could bring high water that would affect bottomland drainage.

If the Missouri River runs above 13 feet, it creates drainage problems for the Halls and Rushville/Sugar Lake levees, said Lanny Frakes, vice president of the association and a local farmer.

Water that isn’t pumped off the land means drowned crops, Mr. Frakes said. The option of pumping becomes more costly with rising fuel costs, he said.

But high fuel costs could be a plus for the river.

That will make people rethink their logistics and could turn the Missouri River back into a marine highway, said Ernie Perry, DNR’s freight development administrator.

Making St. Joseph’s port a success is something Ron Blakley, a member of the local port authority’s board of directors and an area farmer, would like to see.

However, the condition of levees in St. Joseph remains a concern.

The 1993 flood breached the Elwood-Gladden levees and there’s no money in the 2012 fiscal budget to fix the St. Joseph-area levees.

“As a community, we can’t afford to see that time bomb explode because it could mean the loss of the Air National Guard,“ Mr. Blakely said.

The Corps did have some good levee news.

Contracts have been signed to repair the two non-federal Holt County levees that breached in 2010.

Corps releases Environmental Impact Statement on Missouri River Commercial Dredging

The US Army Corps of Engineers has released the Environmental Impact Statement with their suggestions for commercial dredging on the Missouri River in the state of Missouri.

Here's the link to the full report:

The Corps is suggesting a 16 percent reduction in material removed from the river, mostly in the Kansas City area. Levels at St. Joseph and Waverly would increase with other locations remaining stable. The reduction is in response to the bed degradation issue in the Kansas City area.

Here's a link to another article about the EIS:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Agencies seek funding to complete rural water project

 by Mary Garrigan 
originally published in the Rapid City Journal - February 24, 2011
original link:

Three tribes and 10 federal agencies met Thursday in Rapid City to consult on how to get the nearly-complete Mni Wiconi water project finished in the shortest time with the least amount of additional congressional funding.

The more than 20-year-old project has been authorized through 2013, but the distribution system that supplies Missouri River drinking water to thousands of people on four rural water systems and three Native American reservations will still need an extension of time and more money to see it through to completion, said Mike Watson, project engineer with the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Perils of the Pelican

Originally published in Great Falls Tribune May 27, 2010
by Michael Babcock
Original link:

(blogmasters note: this article was published in 2010, but it's a good example of the perils that migratory birds face across their range)

Pity the pelican: misunderstood and wrongly accused of taking a bite out of trout numbers in Montana and here on the Missouri River.

Each spring the carcasses begin showing up in the river after the vandals start shooting.

Folks who live on the river between Cascade and Holter Lake call to let us know that the mayhem has begun. One here, another there, three or four there. All summer long the calls will continue.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

USACE Completes EIS on Missouri River Commercial Dredging

Originally pubished by Dredging Today
Feb 21st, 2011
Original Link:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Missouri River Commercial Dredging. This EIS evaluates the potential impacts of private commercial dredging operations seeking USACE authorization to extract sand and gravel from the Missouri River. The Final EIS identifies the Environmentally Preferred Alternative, which would authorize a level of dredging that USACE believes would best protect the biological and physical environment and minimize the negative socioeconomic impacts on the local and regional economy and the sand and gravel industry.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

MRAPs Draft Scoping Summary and Public Feedback Meetings

(blogmaster's note: Last year the Corps of Engineers held public comment and scoping meetings throughout the Missouri and Lower Mississippi River basin as the first stage in a five-year study revisiting the 8 authorized purposes of the management of the Missouri River. This March, the draft summary of this stage of the study will be released online, followed by more public comment meetings. To check out the public comments submitted last year, click here. One more note - a lot of politicians have stated that this study is a repeat of the Master Manual study completed in 2006. Here's a link to a brochure the Corps published highlighting the differences between the two studies: )
Here's the press release from the Corps of Engineers about upcoming MRAPs activities:
(original link: )

Kansas City, MO - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold seven public meetings to collect feedback on the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) Draft Scoping Summary Report. Throughout the summer of 2010, the Corps received scoping comments to help define the study scope of the MRAPS. Those comments received by Sept. 20, 2010, have been taken into account, analyzed and addressed by the Corps in the Draft Scoping Summary Report. The draft report will be made available for online viewing in March 2011 on .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Down Under the River

by Steve Schnarr
Missouri American Water, the privately owned water company that serves several communities along the Missouri River including the St. Louis metro area, Jefferson City, MO, Parkville, MO and St. Joseph, MO, held tours of their latest Jefferson City area project on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011.

The project is a new water intake system fed by the Missouri River. This winter, crews from engineering firm Layne Christenson have been digging a 200 + foot tunnel under the Missouri River. The tunnel connects with vertical intake pipes inserted into the bed of the Missouri River last fall. When completed, 2 t-shaped intakes will rest just a few feet above the Missouri River bed, feeding pipes laid through the tunnel. These new intakes will increase water capacity for the Jefferson City plant and increase reliability in times of low water.

The intakes are covered with a screen that will trap sediment and debris on the intakes. When these screens become clogged, an air jet will be used to flush sediment from the intakes.

I had the unique opportunity to tour the tunnel, serving as extra film crew for the Rivermiles PBS documentary series. Jodi Pfefferkorn and Scott Mansker, the hosts of the series which will begin running this spring, are doing a show that documents how to turn Missouri River water into tap water. After years of floating on the surface of the river and swimming in it, it was pretty cool to be able to go underneath it. The tunnel is cut through solid limestone bedrock below the groundwater table. The rock is literally flowing with water which is constantly pumped out of the tunnel. I wish I had photos to share, but I was too busy with the video camera to get stills!

The tunnel is located about 20 feet below the bottom of the river, and extends about 80 feet beyond the shoreline. After the intakes are completed, the tunnel will be filled in, so this really was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Several local reporters were invited to tour the tunnel, still in progress. Here is a story reported by KOMU-Channel 8 in Columbia, MO.

Originally broadcast on KOMU-TV, Columbia, MO on Feb. 16, 2011
Here's the link: 

Here's the story as reported by KRCG-13's Mark Slavit:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Researchers hope to curb S.D. advance of Asian carp

Knowledge could help contain menacing fish
originally published in Sioux Falls Argus Leader
original link:
Monday, Feb. 14
by Cody Winchester

Abetted by last summer's record flooding, Asian carp are continuing their advance up the Big Sioux and other Missouri River tributaries, as researchers and wildlife officials gear up to deal with the invasion.

"They're here, so the big question is, how many are we going to get?" said Brian Graeb, an assistant professor in South Dakota State University's wildlife and fisheries department.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Franklin County Hears Another Five Hours of Landfill Testimony

Originally published in the Washington Missourian
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Original Link:
(blogmasters note: for links to many news stories about this issue, check out the Labadie Environmental Organization website)

The Franklin County Commission Tuesday night held what may be the last public hearing on proposed land use regulations regarding landfills.

Commissioners took testimony from members of the public for about five hours in addition to a previous hearing, held Dec. 14. That hearing also lasted about five hours.

About 100 people turned out Tuesday night at East Central College.

Rollin' on the River

Corps of Engineers discuss ‘liquid highway’
by Marshall White
originally published in St. Joseph News-Press - February 9, 2011
original link:

KANSAS CITY — The liquid highway is at St. Joseph’s western doorstep and will be about as good as it can get in 2011.

That was the word from Army Corps of Engineers officials, in Kansas City on Wednesday to meet with navigators, shippers and boaters.

“For Missouri River users, this is as good as it’s going to get,” said John LaRandeau, the corps’ navigation program specialist.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weather Service: Spring flooding likely in Midwest

 (Blogmasters note: the following article refers to the Spring Flood Potential Outlook issued by the National Weather Service. Click here to view. In summary, Upper Mississippi River is forecasted to experience major flooding - the greatest flood risk in past eight years. Missouri River forecast not as dire, but increasingly worse flood risk as you head upstream through NW Missouri.)

(UPDATE: Hydrologist Mark Fuchs (quoted in article below) added this comment in response to an email question: "Qualitatively, I would guess the Missouri may not be quite as primed for flooding from KC to St. Charles, as the Kansas River contribution should be relatively lower than average, since its drainage basin has been in moderate drought since last fall.  The Platte River in Nebraska won't contribute much, either.  The same will likely be true for the Osage and Gasconade out of southern Missouri. Comparing this to last spring, I would think the Missouri's spring flood chances would be comparable from Kansas City to St. Charles, though perhaps a little less thanks to the lack of contribution from Kansas, Nebraska, and southern Missouri.")

By The Associated Press
Published Thursday, February 3, 2011 in Jefferson City News-Tribune

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A hydrologist for the National Weather Service warned Thursday that towns along the upper part of the Mississippi River could be in for significant flooding this spring.

The Weather Service’s St. Louis office released its Spring Flood Outlook last week, and the report was ominous. Tributaries are already running high, soil in northern states is saturated, and cold weather has kept snow from melting. Meanwhile, precipitation is expected to be above normal for February.