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Comment period extended for Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir Surplus Water Reports

Published Sept. 6, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. - In response to requests from the public during meetings held throughout the Missouri River basin from Aug. 20 to Aug. 29, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, is extending the public comment period for the five Draft Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir Surplus Water Reports and Environmental Assessments to Oct. 10, 2012. 

"We heard many comments from people who wanted more time to go through these documents, prepare thorough responses and present information they would like us to consider in our development of the final reports,&qu ot; said Project Manager Larry Janis. "The public input aspect of these reports is key, and we want to allow everyone enough time to make their concerns heard." 

Comments received from the public will be taken into consideration during the development of the final reports for Fort Peck, Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall and Gavins Point. Once complete, they will be provided to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for her action. The final reports are expected to be complete sometime during early 2013. 

The final report for Lake Sakakawea, which was the first of the six reports to be completed, was made public July 18, 2012. 

The draft Surplus Water Reports and environmental assessments for the other five reservoirs are available for viewing at the following Web site: http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Planning/PlanningProjects.aspx

  and in hardcopy at libraries in Glasgow, Mont., Bismarck, N.D., Pierre, S.D., Chamberlain, S.D., Pickstown, S.D. and Yankton, S.D.

The public may submit comments via comment forms available at libraries where the reports are located. Written comments 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 can also be emailed to: momainstem-surplus-waterreports@usace.army.mil. Comments must be postmarked or received no later than Oct. 10, 2012. 

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 t he 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 impleme nted 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. 

Monique Farmer

Release no. 20120906-001