Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Sam Graves (6th District of Missouri)
It’s been nearly 19 months since record flooding struck communities up and down the Missouri River, destroying centuries-old family farms, wrecking historic towns, and leaving a path of devastation and silt deposits behind. While the headlines faded quickly, it took months for the floodwaters to recede, and much of the damage to our flood control systems, communities, farms, and the river’s navigation channel remains.
We’ve got to get this damage repaired. At the same time, it’s imperative that the river is usable. The bottom line is that we can and must do better to maintain and improve our waterways. In recent years, these top priorities have fallen by the wayside as millions have been spent on unproven wildlife experiments on the river while failing to properly maintain the river’s navigation channel and the levee systems that protect our communities and family farms.
In Congress, I’ve been working to fix this. While it’s been difficult convincing some in Washington to care about what happens in flyover country, I’ve ensured that important steps have been taken to rearrange our priorities on the Missouri River. In the water resources bill we recently passed in the House, I successfully fought to halt the construction on Interception Rearing Complexes (IRCs) on the river that impede navigation and negatively impact flood control efforts.
The bill streamlined the repair process for locally controlled levee systems that protect many communities in North Missouri and cleared a path for future improvements to better protect our communities that are all too often blocked by a mess of red tape, measures which help both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
That said, this fight is long from over. Many levees along our rivers remain only temporarily repaired and the Corps has only received $20 million in emergency funds to fix recent damages to the Missouri River navigation channel, damages that are estimated to cost more than $200 million to fix. It’s clear that while we’ve made progress, we have a long way to go, particularly in ensuring the Missouri River remains navigable.
This is an absolute must, not only to keep the ports in St. Joseph and Kansas City running, but also for the farmers, small businesses, and large industries throughout the region that depend on the river to get raw materials here and ship products out. We can better protect our communities and maintain river navigation, and we don’t need a multi trillion-dollar Green New Deal to do it. We just need to take a hard look at how we’re spending our money and start making people’s lives and livelihoods the top priority.