(Glenwood) -- Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley are putting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' river management practices under review Wednesday.
Ernst chairs a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee field hearing on the corps' response to the disastrous Missouri River flooding Wednesday morning at 8:30 at Kaufman Hall at 24116 Marian Avenue in Glenwood. Grassley and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran are also expected to attend the hearing, featuring testimony from not only corps officials, plus local leaders and stakeholders representing areas impacted by the flooding. In a recent conference call with reporters, Ernst indicated she would like to see changes in how the corps manages the river--with flood control as its top priority.
"I have spoken to the corps about this," said Ernst. "I understand that their job is very difficult in juggling all the different priorities up and down the Missouri River. But, you know what, human life and livelihoods need to come first. These structures further upstream, most of them were built for flood control. They're not being used for flood control--they're being used for hydropower, they're being used for recreation. We need to make sure we're managing the river properly--protecting lives, and protecting livelihoods."
Grassley, likewise, has been critical of the corps in recent events, such as a meeting with farmers and others from the agriculture industry at a town hall in Malvern late last month. At that meeting, Grassley said flood control was the primary purpose under the Flood Control Act of 1944 that funded many of the dams along the Missouri. He says problems have continued to grow with the management of the river system following amendments to the Corps' Master Manual that added fish and wildlife protection in the mid-2000s.
"We've got a whole lot of different interests in the Congress of the United States and people offering their views to Congress," said Grassley. "One of those things is environmental issues--worrying more about animals than you do people. I think people ought to be the prime concern of the federal government."
Witnesses expected to testify at the hearing include Major General Scott Spellmon, deputy commanding general, civil and engineering operations for the corps' civil works division, and John Remus, chief of the corps' Missouri River Basin water management division's northwestern region. Also listed: Hamburg Mayor Cathy Crain, Fremont County farmer Leo Ettleman, Doniphan County, Kansas Attorney Joel Euler, and Blake Hurst, executive director of the Coalition Protect the Missouri River.