Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 looking to be "one of the wettest on record"

Originally published in the St. Joseph News-Press on April 26, 2011
Click here for original link. 
By Marshall White

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has changed its cautiously optimistic February forecast.

“2011 is lining up to be one of the wettest years on record,” said Jody Farhat, chief of the Missouri River water basin management.

Despite the fact all of last year’s 9.1 million acre feet of floodwaters were evacuated from the dams, the corps already has 8 million acre feet stored from the 2011 plains’ snowpack. And the mountain snowpack is 130 percent of normal and still rising, Mrs. Farhat said.

Missouri River Clean-up Set for May 7

Originally published in Sioux City Journal on April 27, 2011
Click here for original link. 

SOUTH SIOUX CITY – Missouri River Relief will host its annual Siouxland River Cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon on May 7, coinciding with South Sioux City’s annual PACE Day cleanup of city parks for the first time.

Keep Northeast Nebraska Beautiful, the cities of Sioux City and South Sioux City and LP Gill Hauling and Landfill, are partnering in the local cleanup effort, as well.

Sally Rienert, who is co-organizing the river cleanup on the South Sioux City side, said that organizers are contacting the larger companies and large groups in the area to get involved in the river cleanup and be recognized as a group doing good things for the community.

ND lawmakers approve plan for pipeline project

Originally published by Forbes on April 27, 2010
Click here for original link. 
By Trevor Born - Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Lawmakers on Tuesday approved using a patchwork of loans to finance a $150 million water pipeline project that would supply western North Dakota's oil industry and a number of cities in the region.

House members approved the bill 81-12 on Tuesday, followed by passage in the Senate, 39-8. It now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

The Western Area Water Supply project will take water from the Missouri River near Williston and pipe it into rural western North Dakota.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scientists write about their pallid sturgeon work

Blogmaster's Note: There's a lot of work being done this spring on the river to collect endangered pallid sturgeon for breeding and restocking and tracking gravid pallid sturgeon as they move upriver to spawn. The Missouri Dept. of Conservation, US Fish & Wildlife Service, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, Nebraska Game & Parks, US Geological Survey and US Army Corps of Engineers are all involved and partnering together on the projects. 

Click here for the excellent blog by the US Geological Survey River Studies Branch on their Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project:

Below is a reprint of an article published by Bill Graham of the Missouri Dept. of Conservation.

Primitive fish a precious catch to save the species
 By Bill Graham, MDC.
A pallid sturgeon born in the muddy flows of the Missouri or Mississippi rivers and surviving more than a decade to reach reproductive maturity is among the rarest fishes in North America, an endangered species facing extinction.

Pallid Sturgeon Broodstock Sampling
Which is why a researcher  who nonchalantly handles dozens of big fish daily got excited when he saw the flat snout and staggered barbels on a pale, three-foot-long fish thrashing in the Missouri River.

“Ooh, big pallid,” shouted Thomas Huffmon, a resource science assistant for the Missouri Department of Conservation seeking hatchery brood fish to save a species.

Right: Missouri River Relief's Vicki Richmond and Missouri Master Naturalist Mark Chambers show off a hatchery pallid sturgeon they helped catch with Thomas Huffmon's MDC crew this spring. 

Boat operator Darby Niswonger quickly shifted the motor to idle and prepared to help land the prehistoric fish.

Famous Author Saved Riverboat Pilot's Life

Originally published in the column "Did You Know That" on Inforum, a North Dakota based news website.
Click here for original link. 
By Curtis Eriksmoen

Blogmaster's Note: This column is a bit of history about Grant Marsh, often called the greatest "Mountain Pilot" on the Missouri River. Love to see this old river history revisited!

The man called the “finest riverboat pilot who ever lived” claimed that his life was saved early in his career by the wise decision of his boatmate and good friend, Sam Clemens.

In his biography, “The Conquest of the Missouri,” Grant Marsh told the author that in the winter of 1858-59 he, Clemens and other members of the A.B. Chambers No. 2 ran aground in the Mississippi when their boat ran out of fuel (wood) in the ice-crested river.

Middle School Students Clean River's Edge Trail

Originally published by KFBB Channel 5 in Black Eagle Montana on April 15, 2011
Click here for original link.
By Charlie Keegan

The River's Edge Trail is a little cleaner today after a group of middle schoolers picked up trash along the Missouri River.

Holy Spirit Catholic School received a grant from the Governor's Office of Community Service to participate in Global Youth Service Day. The program tries to push children toward improving their communities through service.

The 55 middle schoolers took a break from the classroom and collected trash along both sides of the river.

Friday’s students were surprised at the amount of litter they found. “They are amazed at the amount of trash that is out there. Actually, I think they're kind of shocked that our city would have this much trash just lying around,” teacher Sue Sargent says.

“I was expecting some garbage, but definitely not this much garbage. People drove by and gave us thumbs up or said good job. It's rewarding when we drive by in the future to see it look cleaner and we know we helped out,” 7th grader Gavin Austin says.

The City and the River's Edge Trail donated the trash bags used in Friday’s cleanup effort.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Missouri River Flooding Reports from the Web

Published April 25, 2011.

blogmaster's note: Here's several links related to current flooding on the lower Missouri River (below Gavin's Point Dam). I'll keep posting stories here for several days as things develop. Luckily, the Missouri River so far has not been hit nearly as hard as the Upper Mississippi, but the potential for flooding exists if there is a lot of rainfall in the basin below Gavin's Point Dam. For now the highest levels are in the Omaha to St. Joseph reach of the river.

First, though, is a link to a couple useful resources from the National Weather Service.
Missouri River Advanced Hydrological Predictions page (select the gages you want to see on the left, select the information you want from that gage on the river, then click "Make My River Page" at the bottom):,1,1,1,1,1

Here' is their map overview of the Missouri River Basin, just another way to access the above information:

News Stories:
Missouri River Flooding Threatens Iowa and Nebraska - Action 3 News - Omaha (April 24, 2011):

Missouri River Running High: Plattsmouth Project Delayed - Channel 6 WOWT - Omaha (April 19, 2011):

Corps of Engineers Bumps Up Missouri River Releases Because of Runoff - Sioux City Journal (April 21, 2011):

Missouri River On the Rise - St. Joseph News-Press (April 22, 2011):

Friday, April 22, 2011

National Park Service Serves With Innovation

Originally published on April 22, 2011 in the Yankton Press-Dakotan
Click here for original link. 
by Randy Dockendorf

blogmaster's note: Often, the trashiest places along a river are at the river accesses, where there are often no trash cans for people to use. Many public land managers say that they don't have enough people resources to keep up with trash cans. Overflowing trash cans attract more trash, they say, and then the trash blows all over. Here, the National Park Service has come up with an awesome alternative. 
This article also discusses the upcoming Missouri River Watershed Festival in Yankton, followed by the Missouri River Clean-up. Awesome!

VERMILLION — Steve Mietz talked trash to his audience Thursday at the University of South Dakota.

The National Park Service (NPS) uses the “Big Belly Solar Trash Cans” at selected sites, said Mietz, the Yankton-based superintendent for the Missouri National Recreational River (MNRR).

The system compacts trash in cans along the MNRR, then uses a sensor to notify NPS officials when the cans are full and ready for collection.

“It’s wicked cool,” Mietz said. “There’s a cost to get from our Yankton headquarters to the far reaches of the park to empty trash. This system saves gas, time and personnel.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Funds sought for river gauges

Originally published on April 6, 2011 in the Omaha World-Herald
Click here for original link.
By Nancy Gaarder

Blogmaster's Note: These cuts are not restricted to Nebraska and Iowa, but include Missouri and Kansas as well. There is a meeting in Council Bluffs about the proposed cuts: Thursday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Iowa National Guard Armory, 2415 E. Kanesville Blvd., Council Bluffs

The number of Missouri River gauges in Nebraska and Iowa could be reduced under an Obama administration budget proposal.

The gauges are important to such things as flood forecasting, electric power generation and municipal water supplies.

But because so few barges ply the Missouri River, the gauges aren't as important to their original purpose — navigation. This is why some are at risk of being shut down.

To avoid that possibility, the two federal agencies responsible for the gauges are appealing to communities, states, utilities and others to consider setting aside money to cover any lost federal dollars.

The Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Geological Survey will host a public meeting Thursday in Council Bluffs to discuss the river gauges.

“We want to lay it all on the line and say, ‘Here's what we're looking at,' so that they have more time to see if they can scrape up the funding,” said Greg Nalley, data chief for the U.S. Geological Survey in Iowa.

Nalley said the Geological Survey and Corps of Engineers have a history of working with local governments on funding for gauges. Each gauge costs about $14,900 a year to operate, he said.

That hasn't kept all gauges operating, however. Nalley said Iowa has 18 gauges along the Missouri River and its tributaries, but at one time had about 26.

Tim Temeyer of the Corps of Engineers in Omaha said the gauges are funded through a portion of the Corps budget that pays for bank stabilization and navigation on the Missouri River.

Temeyer, chief of the water control and water quality section of the Omaha corps, said the agency is proposing to set priorities by making cuts based on a program's purpose.

Because the Missouri River sees relatively few barges, proportionately more gauges would be cut along the Missouri River than along a river with significant barge travel, such as the Mississippi or Ohio.

Like Nalley, Temeyer said the goal of the Thursday meeting is to get ahead of any potential cuts.

As it stands now, no one knows what will happen with next year's federal budget, he said. However, the budget year starts in October, so it's possible that funding for gauges could be lost as early as this fall.

As currently proposed, the Missouri River program could see a 40 percent cut, said Dick Taylor, operations program manager for the corps.

The cuts would also affect gauges in the State of Missouri.

Bob Swanson, director of the Geological Survey's Nebraska Water Science Center, said the gauges are important on both sides of the river.

“As these gauges get dropped, they're very hard to replace,” he said.

Swanson said he is hopeful that others agencies will step up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Opinion Editorial: City could generate its own electricity

Originally published by the Leavenworth Times on April 5, 2011
Click here for original link
Editorial by Matt Nowak

Leavenworth, Kan. — The City of Leavenworth is so fortunate to sit on the edge of the Missouri River and on the edge that is fairly deep because of the river channel.

If it had underwater turbines that were designed to work for that location, the city could be generating electricity for itself.

I am familiar with at least two possible ways to put turbines in the river based on communications with a company that builds them.  One method is to place pylons in the river bed.  They are placed in an array that allows multiple generators to be placed on the pylons like putting a glove over a hand.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Runaway barge hits Ike Skelton Bridge

Originally published in Kansas City Star on April 2, 2011
Click here for original link. 

A runaway barge moving down the Missouri River on Saturday evening struck the Ike Skelton Bridge on Missouri 13, causing minor damage.

The Missouri Highway Patrol closed the bridge for two hours but reopened it about 8 p.m.

The barge, origins unknown, continued down the river, Highway Patrol dispatchers said, before hanging up on a dyke east of Lexington before 9 p.m.

For Blue River cleanup, organizers hope for 1,000 volunteers

Originally published on April 2, 2011 in the Kansas City Star (front page!)
Click here for original link
by Ian Cummings

When scouts went out this week to walk Blue Valley Park, they found leaves starting to bud and freshly cut grass.

But a few steps into a wooded area overlooking the Blue River, they also found toilets, tires and refrigerators. They had to step carefully to avoid broken bottles.

Today organizers hope up to 1,000 volunteers will come out to the river to help clean up tons of litter and trash left by illegal dumping.

It could be one of the biggest cleanups ever in Missouri.

Mo. River Priorities Questioned At Meeting

Originally published in Yankton Press-Dakotan on April 2, 2011
Click here for original link
by Randy Dockendorf

blogmaster's note - This meeting was one of a series of public comment meetings about the Draft Scoping Summary of the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS). Check out MRAPS website here: . You can download the draft summary by clicking here.
Remaining meetings:
Apr 4 Nebraska City, NE Lied Lodge Conference Center, 2700 Sylvan Rd.
Apr 5 Kansas City, KS Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Ave.
Apr 6 St. Louis, MO Doubletree Hotel St. Louis at Westport, 1973 Craigshire Rd.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Bill Smith questions the current priorities for the millions of dollars spent each year on operating the Missouri River.

“The Corps of Engineers receives $6.5 million annually to manage the river for us, and then you multiply it by 67 years (since passage of the 1944 Flood Control Act),” the Sioux City man said.

Smith thinks upstream states could gain much greater attention — and resources — with the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) under way. Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to conduct the study of Missouri River usage.

However, Smith — the president of the Missouri Valley Waterfowlers Association — sees navigation interests and other parties fighting to block any changes in the river’s uses.

Smith pressed for the study during this week’s MRAPS public feedback meeting in Sioux City. He blasted those who are fighting a change of river priorities or blocking the discovery of new priorities altogether.

“They just want to protect the status quo. They don’t want the study to reveal anything new,” he said. “Special entities are keeping this low key. If the public knew more information, they would come unglued.”