May 18, 2009
Jefferson City, MO -- Attorney General Chris Koster today expressed disappointment and frustration with the Army Corps of Engineers' announcement that the Corps will begin the artificial May rise in the Missouri River today by releasing extra water from the Gavins Point Dam, near Yankton, South Dakota.
"Missouri was recently inundated with rains, causing flooding and saturating the ground," said Koster. "The release risks farmland and even the safety of people in low-lying areas."
The National Weather Service has flood warnings in effect for Waverly, Glasgow, Miami and Boonville. The rise takes ten days to travel from Gavins Point Dam to the Mississippi River. During most of those ten days, Lower Missouri River levels will remain high. While the National Weather Service has predicted good weather for the next ten days, accurately predicting the weather ten days from now is difficult and often wrong.
"A ten-day forecast doesn't provide adequate protection for those people living and working near the river," Koster said. "Missouri farmers worked hard to recover from flooding these past few years. Now, despite recent high waters, the Corps wants to risk man-made floods."
Koster said the purpose of the release is also flawed. The rise in water levels is intended to trigger the spawning of the pallid sturgeon, but scientists don't know if the rise has any affect on the reproduction of the sturgeon.
"We're risking the lives and livelihoods of Missourians for what may turn out to be a phantom," Koster said. "The Corps has no idea whether the rise helps the sturgeon in any way, but the Corp does know the risk the rise creates here in Missouri," Koster said.
"The benefit may be non-existent and is not worth the risk," he added.