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Corps extends deadline for Missouri River Mainstem Water Reallocation study to Oct. 12

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Posted 9/25/2012

Release no. 20120925-001


Contact
Monique Farmer
402-995-2420
monique.l.farmer digat usace-digdot-army-digdot-mil

Omaha, Neb. – Based on requests from the public for an extension to the Missouri River Mainstem Water Reallocation Study, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, announced today that the deadline for submitting input regarding areas of focus the public would like to see the study address has been extended by an additional two weeks, giving people through Oct. 12 to submit their comments. 

The reallocation study will evaluate municipal and industrial water storage availability on a long-term or permanent basis via water supply agreements between applicants and the Corps.  

During meetings held Aug. 20 to Aug. 29, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, began the scoping process for the reallocation study for the Missouri River Mainstem System. 

The deadline for public comments on the Water Reallocation Study is now Oct. 12, 2012. The date is not to be confused with the recently extended deadline for the Draft Surplus Water Reports, which is Oct. 10, 2012.

The Corps is in the process of completing three separate, concurrent actions that will impact municipal and industrial water supply users throughout the Missouri River basin. Those actions include: the draft surplus water reports, the rulemaking process associated with the draft surplus water reports, and the water reallocation study.

"Public scoping is an important part of the reallocation study process," said Gwyn Jarrett, project manager. "Comments received from the public will help steer us toward focusing on issues that are important to the basin as we organize the study." 

Written comments for the Water Reallocation Study should be sent to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District CENWO-PM-A
ATTN - Missouri River M & I Water Storage Reallocation Study
1616 Capitol Avenue; Omaha, NE 68102-4901.

Comments can also be emailed to: moriver-reallocationstudy@usace.army.mil

Comments for the Water Reallocation study must be postmarked or received no later than Oct. 12, 2012.

Comments for the Draft Surplus Water Report should be sent to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District CENWO-OD-T
ATTN - Surplus Water Report and EA
1616 Capitol Avenue; Omaha, NE 68102-4901.

Comments for the Draft Surplus Water Reports can also be emailed to: momainstem-surplus-waterreports@usace.army.mil.

The deadline for those comments was extended to Oct. 10, 2012.

BACKGROUND:

Three concurrent actions

The Corps is in the process of completing three concurrent actions that will impact municipal and industrial water supply users throughout the Missouri River basin. Those actions include:

(1.) The Surplus Water Reports and Environmental Assessments

CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY: Section 6, Flood Control Act of 1944

In May 2010, the ASA (CW) directed the Corps to complete six surplus water reports, one for each of the Missouri River Mainstem reservoirs. The Garrison Dam/Lake Sakakawea Surplus Water Report was the first to be distributed for public comment and was finalized on July 18, 2012.  The remaining five surplus water reports were released to the public in draft form Aug. 7, 2012. The draft reports indicate that some amount of surplus water can be made available for a period of up to 10 years for municipal and industrial use without adversely affecting existing lawful uses of the water. In the reports, the Corps identified current and projected municipal and industrial withdrawals from each reservoir and provided an estimated price to be charged under the surplus water agreements. The Flood Control Act authorizes the Corps to enter into surplus water agreements with municipal and industrial water users The surplus water studies, when complete, will allow the Corps to enter into temporary, short-term agreements (in this case, for up to 10 years) for the use of surplus water.

(2.) The Water Reallocation Study
CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY: Water Supply Act of 1958

In May 2010, the ASA (CW) also directed the Corps to complete a Reallocation Study for the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir system.  The Reallocation Study began in June 2012 and will systemically and comprehensively examine whether some amount of the storage included in the Corps Missouri River Mainstem reservoirs may be permanently allocated to municipal and industrial water supply. The study will also examine the effects of the reallocation on the authorized purposes and operation of the reservoirs.  One of the key differences between the Surplus Water Reports and the Reallocation Study is that the Reallocation Study, when complete, will allow the Corps to enter into water storage agreements on a permanent basis. During the public meetings held Aug. 20 to Aug. 29, the Corps gathered information from the public regarding their views on pertinent information the Corps should consider as it shapes the study and outlines variables to be considered. The Corps will use that information to organize the study. The next phase includes the development of a Reallocation Feasibility Report.  The draft of this report will be shared with the public during an open public comment period.  Those comments will be considered in the development of a final version of the report. The final report will be provided to the ASA (CW) for approval.  Once approved, the Corps will be able to enter into permanent water storage agreements with municipal and industrial water users.

(3.) Administrative Procedures Act Rulemaking
CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY: Administrative Procedures Act of 1946

Responding to concerns raised during the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir Surplus Water studies, the ASA (CW) directed the Corps to pursue notice and comment rulemaking in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act to establish a nationwide policy for pricing surplus water uses under Section 6 of the 1944 Flood Control Act.  The eventual scope of the rulemaking will include pricing and may include other aspects of water supply policy to address current and future issues nationwide. The policy will be implemented as a nationwide policy for municipal and industrial water supply users who use surplus water from Corps reservoirs. Rulemaking is the federal law that governs how federal agencies propose and establish regulations. The process associated with rulemaking is designed to ensure the public is informed of proposed rules, have the opportunity to comment on them and have access to the rulemaking record.  The following web site discusses the general process of rulemaking:  http://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf

Rulemaking is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.