Aug 30 2012

Rep. Noem Requests Federal Hearing on Corps' Surplus Water Plan

Noem Joined by Reps. Berg, Rehberg in Letter to Chairman Mica, Ranking Member Rahall

Washington, D.C. – Reps. Kristi Noem, Rick Berg (R-ND) and Denny Rehberg (R-MT) today sent a letter to U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica and Ranking Member Nick Rahall requesting a federal hearing to review the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to charge fees for stored water in the Missouri River upper basin state reservoirs.

On Monday, Rep. Noem attended a public meeting at the Ramkota Hotel in Pierre, where she joined other South Dakotans in expressing frustration over the Corps’ plan to charge South Dakotans a federal fee for using their own water.

Reps. Noem, Berg and Rehberg wrote: “We believe that such a proposal contradicts the legal and historical precedents surrounding the main stem dam system on the Missouri River. For this reason, we are requesting a hearing to review the Corps’ proposal as well as to review the legal and historical precedents surrounding the Corp’s efforts in this regard.”

Full text of the letter below:

Dear Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall,

We write today to request a hearing at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to review the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to charge fees for stored water in the Missouri River upper basin state reservoirs. Access to Missouri River water is critical for farms, businesses, tribes, and municipalities of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, therefore this proposal seriously affects our states’ economies as well as our states’ water rights.

As you know, the Corps recently released a proposal to restrict access to natural flows from the Missouri River and charge a fee for water drawn from the reservoirs. According to this proposal, users would be required to enter into multiyear purchase contracts with the Corps. We believe that such a proposal contradicts the legal and historical precedents surrounding the main stem dam system on the Missouri River.

For this reason, we are requesting a hearing to review the Corps’ proposal as well as to review the legal and historical precedents surrounding the Corp’s efforts in this regard. We would welcome the opportunity to hear from Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy about the Corps’ proposed plan. In addition, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley would be able to provide critical insight on the plan as expert witnesses.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. We would be happy to work with you on this critical issue and to participate in such a hearing as you see fit. Should you need any further information please feel free to contact Patrick Buell (Berg), Andrew Christianson (Noem), or Darrin Munoz (Rehberg).

Sincerely,

Kristi Noem

Rick Berg

Denny Rehberg

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