The ebb and flow of Ol' Muddy

South Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2002  | May 2002 issue

South Dakotans are anxiously awaiting the Army Corps of Engineers plan for Missouri River management, to be unveiled in May. The Corps plan is the latest step in a long-standing dispute over how to control the river's natural fluctuations. The Missouri has six dams that can restrict river flow; four of them—Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall and Gavins Point—are in South Dakota.

Upriver states like Montana and the Dakotas usually join with environmentalists and Indian tribes in calling for seasonal flow patterns that can aid restoration of species, support recreational boating and protect Indian burial lands. Downriver states like Iowa, Missouri and Louisiana tend to align with barge, power plant and agricultural interests that say more controlled flow permits river transportation and irrigation, reduces flooding and helps hydroelectric production. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota has led the charge for upstream states in the U.S. Senate, but faces opposition from Missouri's Senator Christopher Bond.

Douglas Clement