Levee managers claim efforts to save endangered birds, fish is contributing to extreme flooding

Missouri Levee Association official says efforts to save endangered species has hurt river management

Brian Kelly
July 11, 2019 - 8:45 am

WASHINGTON D.C. (KMOX) - Are efforts to save a couple of species of endangered birds and a large primitive fish contributing to the more frequent and destructive flooding along the Missouri River?  

The head of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association Tom Waters says, that's exactly what has happened. You can watch his comments, here: 


"This was a once highly engineered system," Waters told a House subcommittee Wednesday. "But over the past 20 years it's been used to conduct supersized science experiments for two birds and a fish." 

Waters tells KMOX that the effort to protect the piping plover, the interior least tern and the pallid sturgeon has changed the way the river is controlled. He says rock dykes and structures have been changed or destroyed. 

"The effect of that, over time, has been to decimate the flood control ability of the system downstream," Waters says.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, he says, is to blame.

"They have a heavy hand with the Endangered Species Act and really has been managing the river for the Corps of Engineer," Waters says. "The Corps follows orders and right now the Fish and Wildlife Service is the one giving them the orders." 

The Sierra Club of St. Louis, a non-government environmental conservation organization is disputing the claims by Waters. You can hear more from the Sierra Club on Friday morning on KMOX with our Brian Kelly on Total Information AM.

Waters told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Water Resources and Envionment Subcommittee, that it's time to make people and property the top priority.

"We've reached the tipping point," he said. "We can no longer continue to conduct failed experiment after failed experiment at the expense of peoples' lives and livelihoods. And I said lives because people have died." 

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