Gov. Rounds calls for Missouri River Summit

Gov. Rounds calls for Missouri River Summit Gov. Mike Rounds sent a letter July 17 to acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Lee Brownlee, calling for a Missouri River summit which will bring all stakeholders together in an attempt to find resolution for the ongoing issues of the river.

The request is in response to the July 15 announcement that the Department of the Army and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will try to resolve management issues of the Missouri River.

"We are following the proceedings with interest. While the damage has been done this year, it would be nice to have some upper basin water in reserve, should the drought continue next year," said Rounds on the announcement.

"The use of the Missouri River flows to augment the Mississippi River water levels is outside the normal operating directions that the Army Corps of Engineers should be following," he continued. "Our position continues to call for the Army Corps of Engineers to update the Master Manual to reflect the interests of the upstream states as well as the downstream states.

"Given the changed economic and river health conditions since the last revision, as soon as all interested parties feel the need to come to the negotiating table, the sooner we'll get this issue resolved," Gov. Rounds said.

The letter to Acting Secretary Brownlee proposes a summit early this fall involving all of the Missouri River's federal, state and private stakeholders.

"I am writing to offer you my assistance in trying to reach an equitable resolution to the current deadlock on the Missouri River. I am willing to propose a plan that takes into consideration all uses of the river and is environmentally friendly," said Rounds on the proposal. "I would be honored to host this summit and will commit the resources of the State of South Dakota to get it done."

The July 15 release notes the Corps of Engineers is under two conflicting court orders concerning the river that are irreconcilable.

"All the court cases have failed to produce an agreed upon revision for managing Missouri River water," said Rounds.

"Perhaps it is time we got all the decision makers in one room and give this whole program a fresh approach. The management status quo, and the process being used to work out the differences certainly isn't working."

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