Rep. Porter’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers

Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, sent the following letter to the Army Corps of Engineers. I’ve asked him to let me know what response he receives.

June 9, 2011 

Colonel Robert Ruch


Omaha District, Northwestern Division

United States Army Corps of Engineers

1616 Capitol Avenue, Suite 365

Omaha, NE 68102-4901 

Dear Colonel Ruch:

This letter is a request for information relating to the current Missouri River flooding in Mandan/Bismarck, North Dakota. Specifically, I would like the following information:

• Why did the United States Army Corps of Engineers stop releasing water at an increased rate around the middle of March 2011 and not increase releases from the Garrison Dam until May 6th 2011, especially given the fact that the reservoirs was full and the snow pack was at least 140% of normal?

• What role, if any, did the snowpack in the upper portion of the Missouri River Basin play in the management of the water releases from the Garrison Dam?

• Given the fact that the reservoir system was full in 2010, why weren’t the releases timed to prevent the catastrophic event that we are currently experiencing?

• Please provide any records regarding the decision to delay Garrison Dam releases and any internal memos/emails discussing the decisions to delay the releases and slow the releases in 2011.

• What part did the nesting season of the piping plover play in any water management decisions?

Thank you for your responses to this inquiry. 


Todd Porter

State Representative 

Cc: Senator John Hoeven

Senator Kent Conrad

Congressman Rick Berg

2 thoughts on “Rep. Porter’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers

  1. Until now ND has consistently lobbied for lower releases from the Reservoirs to improve recreation. It was well known that the lower Mississippi would be subject to risk of extreme flooding this year. any decision of the corps to delay larger releases from Garrison and Oahe was probably to reduce lower Mississippi flooding. If this was the case the Corps goofed. Whether the Corps is absolutely right in this case or not; it is an archaic, totally bureaucratic entity hobbled by Congressional earmarks for projects that will take it forty years. The corps needs to be abolished and totally recreated. Delbert Moore

    • One doesn’t have to go far on google to find some answers. For years the Game and Fish Department and US Fish and Wildlife Service have been filing lawsuits along with groups like Friends of Sakakawea to keep water levels higher. Stating that levels must be higher to support Rainbow Smelt hatches on the system and that levels must be higher to provide water to little towns on Sakakawea. Someones gonna complain no matter what happens. Now we have high water for the smelt, only problem is there are smelt in basements in south Bismarck. COE don’t give in to private/personal interests….Flood Control should be #1 always.
      Actually holding water back for smelt would aid endangered species nesting if it was done from May through June (when the birds are in ND nesting)…..the COE could have released all the water in Sakakawea in March 2011 and it would have had little effect on endangered species in ND (cause they’re all in Mexico and Texas in March, they haven’t migrated north yet to nest).
      Bottomline though there were actual devastating floods (entire towns underwater) on the Mississippi and water releases just couldn’t happen in March.

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