By James F. Lowe, Kansas City District Public Affairs
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Stakeholders, customers and elected officials were guests of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, for the annual Missouri River tour Aug. 22.
The purpose of the trip aboard the district’s barge is to provide a first-hand look at the Civil Works projects the district builds and maintains along the Missouri River and to exchange questions and comments with stakeholders.
The barge tour traveled from Jefferson City, Mo., downriver for twelve miles and back, allowing guests to see the capitol and riverfront of Jefferson City, levees, a water intake and tower and navigation elements.
Noting that we are 25 years out from the flood of 1993, Col. Doug Guttormsen, the Kansas City District commander, commented on improvements to our levee systems that will help the region when the next really high waters come, “We now have a National Registry of Levees and big money has been spent by local, state and federal governments to shore up and improve our levees.”
Guttormsen also discussed making better risk-informed decisions due to our Levee Safety Program and the enhanced inspections and ongoing collection of critical information to make decisions grounded in current realities and pledged to work with all of the district’s stakeholder on those decisions. He highlighted the “recent $453 million in federal supplemental funding to complete the Kansas City Levee project and also past and current efforts reinforce our commitment to getting good projects started and completed.”
About 50 guests attended the river tour this year. Jennifer Wood, the district levee safety program manager, spoke on levee safety risk communication. John Grothaus, a district planning project officer, discussed the implications of the Lower Missouri River Study.
Several stakeholders led discussions on their area of expertise.
Cheryl Ball, of the Missouri Department of Transportation, spoke about intermodal transportation. She clearly recognized the high value of collaboration between state, federal and local authorities in finding and using the best solutions for transportation. Ball emphasized the economic benefit to using barges to reduce the load on highways but also to reduce shipment costs.
Casey Kruse, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Missouri River Coordinator, along with Mark Harberg, Corps Recovery Program Coordinator, discussed the Missouri River Biological Opinion. Kruse noted the vast improvement in coordination and cooperation between the federal agencies and stakeholders over the last five years and the benefit that brought to endangered species recovery.
Stakeholders from several cities in the surrounding area participated in the tour and reception.
One of the primary purposes of the Missouri River main stem reservoir system is to reduce risk and damages from floods to people, homes, and businesses. The Corps remains committed to operating the river to serve the Congressionally authorized project purposes and to balance the competing needs of the Missouri River Basin.
Col. Doug Guttormsen, Kansas City District commander, summarized the importance of collaboration by saying, “We can only accomplish what is in the best interest of the nation and the stakeholders in the Missouri River Basin by working together.”
The Kansas City District is a team of dedicated professionals with a strong heritage and proven results who, in collaboration with our partners, proudly serve in the Heartland providing leadership, technical excellence, and innovative solutions to the nation's most complex problems.