Coalition to Protect the Missouri River Winter 2014 Update

Missouri and Mississippi River Basin Friends:

On behalf of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River (CPR) board of directors, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support of CPR efforts.  Missouri and Mississippi River Basin interests have recognized the need for a coalition-based strategy to ensure “authorized purposes” of the Missouri River are protected and maintained.  As such, CPR aggressively advocates for and protects the societal and economic benefits of the river through stakeholder, regulatory and legislative engagement processes.

By combining interests and resources within our coalition, members can be more informed of the broader aspects of river issues and exercise more consistent and effective input on agriculture, flood control, navigation, water supply and water quality-related issues.  As a member of CPR, you recognize the benefits of coalition relationships.  Your ongoing support has allowed CPR to actively engage myriad issues with success since 2001.

The challenges stakeholders face are ever present and substantive in scope and potential adverse effects.  Following this letter, you will find an explanation of the various fronts on which CPR is presently engaged.  You will note many issues remain the same as in past years while new issues surface regularly.  It is on these issues CPR focuses its resources and efforts on your behalf.

It is commonly understood the influence CPR has brought to various tables in recent years has dramatically benefitted its membership.  CPR’s presence on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) and its strong relationships with allies and Congressional delegates has allowed it to protect, shape and ensure each organization’s future on and alongside the rivers.  It is with these efforts CPR will continue into 2014.

CPR continues to be a reputable and credible resource to many allies and state and federal friends.  Those relationships remain strong and CPR is seen as the preeminent advocate and voice in the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins.  Your ongoing support allows CPR this opportunity and the board is grateful for your willingness to combine resources to influence such important issues.

Sincerely,

Randy Asbury

Executive Director

Missouri River Issues Update

Winter 2014

Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC):  CPR and various allies have participated in the MRRIC process since its inception in 2008.  The greatest achievements related to MRRIC have likely been threefold:  1) MRRIC aided in the diminishment of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes’ (MoRAST) influence; 2) MRRIC provides greater transparency and earlier knowledge of issues the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) promote; and, 3) the MRRIC Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP) provides for a greater opportunity for more credible science-driven species recovery.  The ISAP produces a more accountable and scientifically relevant process.  CPR will continue to participate in and monitor all efforts occurring in MRRIC.

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Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (MRRMP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):  Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) began a three year process toward developing the MRRMP and completing an EIS.  Their goal is to develop an Adaptive Management Plan and to assess effectiveness of actions being taken pursuant to the 2003 Biological Opinion (BiOp) by spring 2016.  The geographic scope is limited to the Missouri River mainstem from Ft. Peck Reservoir to the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Yellowstone River from the intake to the confluence with the Missouri.  This effort does not include ecosystem restoration or work in the tributaries.  Much of the work, including the human considerations issues (i.e. social, economic and cultural), is being reviewed in the MRRIC process.  It is our intent through CPR efforts to represent and protect the diverse interests of our membership throughout the MRRMP and EIS process.

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BiOp Spring Rise: MRRIC’s ISAP released a report in 2011 determining the manmade spring rises were not meeting any of their expected outcomes as outlined in the 2003 Amended BiOp. With the results of this report and the MRRMP/EIS in process, the Corps and USFWS agreed not to conduct a spring rise in 2014.  CPR will continue to oppose manmade spring rises as we have consistently done in the past.

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Congress:  Lower Basin Congressional delegates were successful in 2013 with another round of funding prohibition amendments for the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) and the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan (MRERP).  Unfortunately, recent efforts fell short on the MRAPS but prohibition of MRERP funding continues.  Both studies have been identified as adverse to CPR interests and CPR will continue to seek to terminate the studies through ongoing funding prohibitions.  Congressman Luetkemeyer successfully inserted Mitigation Act inventory gathering language in the latest House WRRDA.  Data gathered through this language would set the stage for authorizing cross-compliance of already inventoried state/federal acreages into the 166,750 Mitigation Act requirements.  WRRDA’s future is unknown as of this writing.

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Western Water Demands:  In recent years, various western states have proposed tapping the Missouri River in high water conditions to supplement their declining aquifers and water supplies.  Colorado completed a study in 1982 which called for a Kansas aqueduct that would draw water from wells next to the Missouri River.  The study estimated 1.3 trillion gallons of water could be moved each year.  The study gave the pipeline high marks for technical feasibility, but the $8.6 billion price tag ($3-4 billion in other reports) and the high energy costs curtailed implementation.  Within the last few months, the State of Kansas has actively raised the transfer possibility again.  The Kansas Water Office intends to begin a study regarding the feasibility of constructing an aqueduct capable of diverting 4 million acre feet of Missouri River water to Western Kansas.  Ostensibly, this water would also be tapped only in extreme high water conditions when the Missouri River Basin would supposedly benefit from the water draw in flood conditions.  Certainly, the assumption the “high water” condition is the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent” is a real possibility.  For that reason, CPR will continue to monitor and engage the advances of Western States on the Missouri River Basin’s water supply.  As we move into what appears to be a season of declining Western water supply, these attempts will likely be more prevalent and taken more seriously.

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