A while ago, I drew attention to the floods which have inundated the Upper Midwest states like Iowa and Nebraska. What I did not know at the time (but should have), is that when there is catastrophe, can the fat finger of government be far behind?
There is much more to the “management” of the Missouri River basin than just how and when to drain water.
In the interest of habitat restoration, etc. (the highest priority since 2004), tens of thousands of acres surrounding the river and more than a thousand miles of riverbank have been mechanically altered by the Corps — not with an eye to controlling flooding, but rather to facilitate the “reconnection of the river with its floodplain,” believed to be a necessity in achieving the goal of species and habitat preservation and restoration.
When the Corps believed that protecting people and property was a more worthy aim than fish and wildlife, the riverbanks were stabilized, shored against erosion and high-water events. The channels were kept largely free of silt infill to facilitate the draining efficiency of the river that essentially deals with the runoff of vast millions of square miles of mountain and plains snow and rain.
Dikes were built and maintained. Levees, too. Chutes (secondary channels of a meandering river) were closed to inhibit the ability of the river to overcome its banks in seasons of high-water. All these things (and more) combined to permit millions of Americans to develop the reclaimed lands, for farming, ranching, and homes. Indeed, these millions of Americans were encouraged to do so by their elected representatives, who happily took credit for the resulting economic benefits and increased tax revenues.
And then in 2004, it all changed. Read the whole thing, and be enraged.