The following include relevant legislation that has influenced the operational objectives of the Missouri River Mainstem System and its master manual.
The Reclamation Act of 1902 authorized developing irrigation projects with Federal financing subject to partial repayment, by irrigators and partial reimbursement, from hydroelectric power revenue. The Act is limited in application to the 17 states west of the 98th Meridian. The fundamental purpose of the Act was to reclaim and foster settlement on undeveloped lands in the western States. Accordingly, a limitation of 160 acres was placed on the amount of individually owned land that would be furnished irrigation water. The Reclamation Act has since been amended and expanded to permit water resources development for other beneficial purposes besides irrigation.
The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1912 authorized a 6 foot navigation channel for the Missouri River from the mouth near St. Louis, to Kansas City, Missouri. Several subsequent modifications led to the latest being the Rivers and Harbors Act of March 2, 1945. It provided work to secure a 9 foot deep by 300 foot wide channel from the mouth to Sioux City, Iowa.
The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1927 led to the Corps’ first comprehensive investigation and study of the water resources and associated problems of the Missouri River Basin. The entire river system was examined to determine the water resources and the prospects of its development for flood control, navigation, irrigation, and power. The reports of these investigations, the “308 Reports,” are historic reference documents for water resource development in the Missouri River Basin.
This comprehensive investigation and its reports identified many projects that did not appear to be feasible at that time or within the scope of National policy for Federal development. They were subsequently adopted by the Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation as integral parts of the Missouri Basin Plan.
Experience was gained and a large amount of data was collected in diversified fields that have subsequently made important contributions to the solution of basin problems.
The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1935 established construction of Fort Peck Dam which was initiated under Executive Order in October 1933 with funds provided by Congress to relieve unemployment. Subsequently, the project was specifically authorized by Congress in the Rivers and Harbors Act, approved August 30, 1935.
The Fort Peck Power Act of 1938 authorized constructing Fort Peck’s power facilities. The project was authorized primarily for improving navigation on the Missouri River and the incidental purposes of flood control and hydroelectric power production.
The Flood Control Act of 1936 established the following policies: (a) flood control on navigable waters or their tributaries is a proper activity of the Federal Government in cooperation with the States, and (b) the Corps’ Chief of Engineers would have jurisdiction over, and supervision of, Federal investigations and improvements of rivers and other waterways for flood control and allied purposes.
Subsequent flood control acts amending the 1936 Act were established to authorize Federal participation in more comprehensive water resources developments.
The Flood Control Act of 1938 recognized the Missouri River Basin as having a general flooding problem in the lower portion of the basin, and as contributing significantly to the disastrous floods on the Mississippi River. Accordingly, the Act authorized the Corps to construct nine reservoirs in the lower part of the Missouri River Basin for flood control. The 1938 Act adopted comprehensive plans for many basins, including the Missouri River Basin.
This was the initial step toward the overall Missouri Basin Development Plan. The first expansion of this plan resulted from additional Corps studies and appeared in the Flood Control Act of 1941. In the expansion, levee protection along the Missouri River from Sioux City, Iowa, to Kansas City, and the Harlan County Reservoir on the Republican River in Nebraska were authorized.
The Flood Control Act of 1944 approved a plan of development for the Missouri River Basin based on a Corps proposal and a proposal by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The coordinated result of these two plans gives the Corps responsibility for developing projects on the main stem of the Missouri River. Tributary projects were made the responsibility of the Corps if the dominant purpose was flood control.
Under the 1944 Flood Control Act, approximately 100 tributary reservoirs were authorized in addition to the Garrison, Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall, and Gavins Point projects on the main stem of the Missouri River. The Act incorporated the Fort Peck project into the multi-purpose Mainstem Reservoir System.
The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 extended Federal interest and financial participation, to land stabilization and flood prevention measures, on smaller watersheds. Thus, this Act served to supplement the policy for flood control measures on major streams established earlier. Subsequent amendments to the Act of 1954 increased the limitations on size of watershed eligible for improvement, and on storage capacity of individual reservoirs. These amendments also authorized provision of storage for purposes other than flood prevention, within the overall storage limitation.
The 1958 Water Supply Act recognized that the states and local interests have primary responsibility for developing water supplies for domestic, municipal, industrial, and other purposes. However, it provided that the Federal Government should participate and cooperate by making provision for water supply in the construction, maintenance, and operation of Federal navigation, flood control, irrigation, or multiple-purpose projects.
Accordingly, storage for water supply may be included in any Federally-constructed reservoir project, subject to consummation of certain assurances or agreements for non-Federal repayment of costs allocated to water supply.
The Federal Water Project Recreation Act of 1965 established developing the recreation potential at Federal water resource projects as a full project purpose.
The 1986 Water Resources Development Act establishes, in Section 906, a comprehensive mitigation policy for water resource projects, including Section 906e. It authorized the Secretary of Army to provide for fish and wildlife mitigation resulting in projects under his or her jurisdiction.