Letter to The Hon. Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, Chief of Engineers, U.S Army Corps of Engineers - Sen. Moran Joins Colleagues to Call on Army Corps of Engineers to Address Safety, Navigability Issues on Lower Missouri River
Dear Lieutenant General Spellmon,
We write today to convey a growing concern that we continue to hear from navigators and industries that rely upon the Missouri River for the transportation of their raw materials. Currently, there is a critically dire situation related to navigation challenges in several areas along the Missouri River where serious barge traffic accidents have occurred and commercial activity has nearly come to an abrupt halt as we enter harvest season in the Midwest.
As we know you are aware, the Kansas City and Omaha Districts' authorized mission is to maintain a 9 foot by 300 foot navigation channel as part of the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project authorized by Congress. The current conditions and challenges impacting the navigation channel are largely attributed to previously constructed shallow water habitat chute projects and dike notches. Additionally, the prior three years of high water including the record duration 2019 flood event have contributed greatly to these challenges. The recent years of high water have prevented the Corps from both identifying needs and completing repairs. In addition, the river levels have dropped relatively quickly, leaving behind sediment that needs to be scoured from the channel and causing navigation structures to work improperly.
We appreciate all the efforts and actions that the Kansas City and Omaha Districts have taken to date in order to respond to this emergency and remediate the most pressing problems. We understand that the Kansas City District has received $20 million in emergency supplemental funds to conduct necessary work on the navigation channel. However, we understand that the need for resources between the Kansas City District and the Omaha District to fully address all the repairs is an estimated $200 million to ensure that the lower Missouri River is fully navigable. As this situation evolves, we request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers utilize administrative flexibilities and direct additional resources to address these challenges along the Missouri River.