After months of high flood waters inundating the Missouri River Basin, a group of farmers in Western Iowa and Missouri are demanding a change in the river's priorities, policies and procedures.
Responsible River Management, a multi-state, grassroots organization, includes individuals, businesses, municipalities and transportation interests. The goal is to have input on current and future management of the Missouri River and its effects on the Mississippi River Basin, so the economic viability, rural and community cultures and history will be preserved.
Goal of new group is to have input on management of Missouri River
Leo Ettleman, a farmer in northern Fremont County, says members of the organization are concerned with how the Missouri River is being managed and how it is affecting everyone below and above the dam systems. "There's so much devastation and flooding between the reservoirs. I don't know anybody who is happy with what is going on," Ettleman says.
Ettleman refers to the United States Army Corps of Engineers Master Manual, which is a water control plan that guides how much water should be released from the six reservoirs on the Missouri River Basin, when and for how long. It's based on more than 100 years of historical runoff records.
"Last time it was revised, it took 14 years," he says. "There were so many studies done and public input put into it, and agriculture and rural America was not as nearly as aggressive as we should have been. We pretty much fell asleep at the wheel and that needs to change, and that's what our group is about."
For farmers to get crop insurance, Army Corps must commit to repair levees
The main goal at the moment is to freeze the budget and get funds reallocated. Ettleman also says in order for farmers to secure crop insurance for future crop years, the Army Corps must commit to repair the levees.
"If the breeches don't get fixed, some may have no idea whether they'll be non-insurable or high risk," he says. "We have recently found out from the Risk Management Agency that our farm is insured, but it's unclear at what risk level."
Ettleman says while there were many red flags leading up to the flood, he is not pointing fingers at the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
"We have to work with the Corp of Engineers," he says. "They're the ones that will repair our levees and continue to work on our levee systems, but changes have to be made." For more information, visit www.responsiblerivermanagement.com.