Missouri River Flooding Could Spill Into Court
The Army Corps said raising the river this spring will help save an endangered fish. But, Attorney General Jay Nixon said that rise will flood nearby farms and damage crops.
Peggy Smart still remembers the record flood of 1993, which swamped her 4,000-acre farm.
"It was pretty devastating," she recalled. "It knocked out most of the crops."
So, Smart doesn't want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corps of Engineers to release water from South Dakota reservoirs just so the pallid sturgeon can reproduce in the river.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said the Army Corps will watch flood plains, such as the one where the Smart Brothers Farm is located. But, Smart said, that's not good enough.
"There's no way that they can totally predict the weather," she complained, "how these fronts are going to move in and all of that."
Missouri River expert Joseph Gibbs agreed.
"We can get a complete overtopping of levees and entire areas flooded," he added. "And this, of course, could close the roads, destroy the crops."
So, Smart's watching the weather.
"Right now, we are not in too much a danger because the river level is so low," she admitted. "But, at some point in time, the reservoirs will be filled up again, and they'll have no alternative but to release the water."
Nixon said he will file a lawsuit this week in Federal District Court in Minnesota, because it has jurisdiction over any federal legal action regarding the Missouri River.