08.09.18

Rounds, Colleagues Urge Funding of Snowpack Monitoring System to Help Avoid Future Flooding Along Missouri River

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D) led a letter urging the conferees of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to include a provision in the final conference report that clarifies that funds under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) operation and maintenance account are available to implement a snowpack and soil moisture monitoring system. This language was included in the report accompanying the Senate-passed version of the bill at the request of Rounds. Rounds serves as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, which has oversight jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A snowpack monitoring system will help mitigate the possibility of a major flood event for those living and working along the Missouri River.

 

“Prompted by the devastating flooding along the Missouri River in 2011, the Government Accountability Office released a report in September 2014 that concluded that the USACE’s flood prevention mission would likely benefit from the development and implementation of forecasting techniques,” wrote the senators. “Congress has taken action to facilitate USACE’s adoption of this program. Therefore, we respectfully request that you incorporate this report language into the final conference report.”

In addition to Rounds, the letter was signed by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Kevin Kramer (R-N.D.), Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.). Since taking office, Rounds has called on the USACE to implement the snowpack monitoring system, which was first authorized in a 2014 water resources bill.

Text of the letter is below:

Dear Conferee,

As the conference process moves forward for the fiscal year 2019 energy and water development appropriations legislation, we ask that you retain language from the Senate committee report in the final conference report.

Language informing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that the previously-authorized soil moisture and snowpack monitoring program is eligible for funding from the USACE’s Operation and Maintenance account was included in the Senate energy and water development appropriations legislation (S. Rept. 115-258):

“Soil Moisture and Snowpack Monitoring Program.--Following the 2011 Missouri River Flood, the Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that increased soil moisture and snowpack monitoring could have mitigated the impact of the flood on communities along the Missouri River. Accordingly, WRRDA section 4003 authorized a soil moisture and snowpack monitoring program to be administered by the Corps in coordination with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Section 1179 of the WIIN Act identified the Corps as the lead agency for carrying out and coordinating this monitoring program. Activities necessary to carry out soil moisture and snowpack monitoring are eligible for funds provided in this account. The Corps is also encouraged to provide sufficient funding in future budget submissions for this program.”

Prompted by the devastating flooding along the Missouri River in 2011, the Government Accountability Office released a report in September 2014 that concluded that the USACE’s flood prevention mission would likely benefit from the development and implementation of forecasting techniques. Congress has taken action to facilitate USACE’s adoption of this program. Therefore, we respectfully request that you incorporate this report language into the final conference report.

Sincerely,

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