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Missouri River Municipal & Industrial Water Storage Reallocation Study

Location: Missouri River from the headwaters of Fort Peck, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri
Authorities: Section 216 of the Flood Control Act of 1970; 1958 Water Supply Act
Current Phase: Feasibility

On June 10, 2008, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Real Estate Policy Guidance Letter No. 26 entitled "Easements to Support Water Supply Storage Agreements and Surplus Water Agreements" was issued. The policy provided that "...effective immediately, no easement that supports any type of water supply agreement will be executed prior to the water supply agreement being executed by all parties.” The new guidance clarified that an easement did not authorize the withdrawal of water and that a separate water supply agreement was required. Prior to issuance of this policy, the Omaha District, per prior direction, had been issuing easements without storage agreements in place. In order to comply with this policy, all existing municipal and industrial (M&I) water supply users currently on the reservoirs, as well as all future users, must enter into a water storage agreement in order to withdraw water from the Missouri River mainstem reservoirs. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works [ASA(CW)] Jo-Ellen Darcy directed the Corps to complete surplus water reports for the short-term needs and a reallocation study to meet long-term demands for water supply.

Before the ASA(CW) may offer and execute surplus water agreements, it must first be determined whether surplus water is available. Beginning in 2010, the Corps, at the direction of the ASA(CW), began to develop surplus water reports, one for each of the six Missouri River mainstem projects, beginning with Garrison Dam/Lake Sakakawea. The purpose of the reports was to determine whether surplus water could be made available for M&I withdrawal on a temporary basis (less than 10 years). On July 18, 2012, the ASA(CW) approved the Garrison Dam/Lake Sakakawea Surplus Water Report, thereby determining that the Corps can temporarily make available 100,000 acre-feet of yield for M&I water supply use at Lake Sakakawea. Final Surplus Water Reports have been prepared for the other five mainstem reservoirs and are under review by USACE Headquarters.

Recognizing that these withdrawals may need to exceed 10 years, the ASA(CW), under Section 216 of the 1970 Flood Control Act (Public Law 91-611), directed the Corps to proceed with a long-term Missouri River mainstem water storage reallocation study which would allow the Corps to enter into permanent storage contracts. The Missouri River Municipal and Industrial Water Storage Reallocation Study officially began in August 2012 with seven public scoping meetings throughout the Missouri River basin.

With input from various federal and state agencies, interested stakeholders, and the public during the scoping period, the Omaha District over the past two years has been comprehensively examining (1) the amount of water supply storage needed to meet existing and future M&I water supply demand, (2) the effects of storage reallocation on the authorized purposes and operations of the mainstem reservoirs, and (3) the effects of storage reallocation on the environment.

Study Update: The Omaha District is currently preparing the Draft Missouri River Municipal and Industrial Water Storage Reallocation Report, which is anticipated to be released for public review in late July 2014.

For more information on this Reallocation Study, please contact the study manager via email at moriver-reallocationstudy@usace.army.mil or by mail at the following address:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District - CENWO-PM-AA
Attn:  M&I Reallocation Study
1616 Capitol Avenue
Omaha, NE 68102