Abbott pledges to fight for reform in river management

Abbott pledges to fight for reform in river management Jim Abbott pledged July 16 to fight for South Dakota's rights to Missouri River water as governor, citing the vital role the nation's longest river plays in the state's economy including recreation and tourism, agriculture � and as a source of drinking water for thousands of residents.

"I'm here today to announce that I will fight for South Dakota's rights to Missouri River water and for all of the state's water interests," said Abbott, standing before the gushing falls at Falls Park on the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls. "I will join with our congressional delegation, and with other officials from upstream states, to protect one of our state's greatest assets."

Abbott said he was very disappointed with the way the Missouri River is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The long-awaited new management plan that was to be released this spring by the corps remains just that � long awaited," Abbott said. "The Missouri River has become a political football stretching from the nation's heartland all the way to the White House � and wise management practices, such as a spring rise, have been shelved. That's simply wrong."

Abbott noted that sport fishing, boating, hunting and other recreational offerings along the river from Mobridge to Yankton are an $85 million industry in South Dakota. Yet this industry is continually in jeopardy due to the corps' policy of releasing water from dams in South Dakota to support the $8 million barge industry downstream.

"This makes no sense, and points to the critical need for change in the way the river is managed," Abbott said.

"As we approach the bicentennial for the Lewis and Clark expedition, it's time for solid leadership on water issues," Abbott said. "I will provide that leadership."

The mayors of Yankton and Vermillion, Charlie Gross and Roger Kozak, joined Abbott for the news conference and said he would be a strong advocate for South Dakota on water issues if elected governor.

Michael Jandreau, chairman of the lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and Darren Smith, a Sioux Falls city councilman, also described Abbott as a leader who fight for the state's water rights.

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