The Missouri River Basin governors were told earlier this week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposes a proposal to lower the level of a North Dakota reservoir in the hopes of alleviating flooding along the Missouri River.
In a memo to various impacted states to discuss at a future meeting, Brian P. Dunnigan, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, wrote: "The Missouri basin governors recently received a copy of the Corps' response to (North Dakota state engineer) Todd Sando's proposal to lower the level of Garrison reservoir to elevation 1835.0 feet at the start of the 2012 runoff season. General McMahon concluded that the most prudent action is not to implement the plan proposed by Mr. Sando, despite the fact that several basin Governors have voiced their support for the plan."
In an Oct. 13 letter to the attendees, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he favored a recommendation from Sando to lower Lake Sakakawea, created by the Garrison Dam, by 2 1/2 feet. He said such a move would give managers flexibility. Dalrymple reportedly says the plan, while not a cure all, would open up nearly 750,000 acre feet of storage early next year.
McMahon's decision reflects comments made by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who at an Oct. 17 meeting of Missouri River Basin officials disagreed with the other governors about the release of water. He said he did not want to place Montana in a vulnerable position should a drought occur. He also accused the other governors of using faulty data. Last week, he sent a letter to the Corps that included several caveats for them to agree to if Montana were to go along with a plan.Dunnigan's memo also attempts to set up another meeting of governors.