PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) A good crowd attended a Corps of Engineers meeting in Pierre held Monday night on its plan to charge for river water usage. Some state, federal and tribal officials were on hand-or were represented by others-and expressed their opposition to the plan. Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement that he is disappointed with the Corps’ proposal to restrict access to and charge a fee for water flows in the Missouri. A statement from Governor Dennis Daugaard was read by Jason Glodt, in which the governor requested an extension in the comment period on the proposal to mandate fees for use of the river water. He said upstream states would have to pay while downstream states would enjoy benefits-which he said is not equitable. U.S. Representative Kristi Noem said before Monday’s meeting that she feels the Corps’ plan is ridiculous. She says her office has been talking with leaders in other states along the river to keep tabs on the plan.
Noem said it’s hard to understand how such a plan would be rational.
Noem feels that the state can fight the proposal and she believes legislation could be used to do that– if it is needed.
Another audience member was Paul Lepisto who is Regional Conservation Coordinator for the Izaak Walton League of America. He says he still has several questions on the Corps’ plan to sell surplus water.
Lepisto agrees with Governor Daugaard’s suggestion that the comment period be extended.
Larry Janis, Chief of the Corps Natural Resources and Recreation Branch, said after the meeting that several interesting viewpoints were brought up and will be considered.
Janis says the discussion on the proposal started in 2010-before the 2011 flood.
Janis says Governor Daugaard is joined by some others in asking for an extension in the comment period-which he says the Corps will consider.
There will be a meeting today in Bismarck, to be followed by the final public gathering in Glasgow, Montana tomorrow. The draft Surplus Water Reports and environmental assessments are available for viewing at: http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/html/pd-p/Plan_Formulation/Review/review_plans.html
At this point, the Corps says comments on the plan must be postmarked or received no later than September 10.
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