ST. LOUIS (CN) – Despite flooding that killed 5 people, closed 147 roads and got 70 Missouri counties declared a disaster area, a federal judge on Tuesday denied the state attorney general’s request to block release of millions of gallons of water from a dam on the Missouri River. U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton said the Army Corps of Engineers two-day “spring rise” to help sturgeon spawn is not illegal. Attorney General Jay Nixon sued to stop the release, scheduled to begin today. A spokesman for Nixon said an appeal to the 8th Circuit was denied.
A spokesman for the Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that the river was falling at St. Louis and by the time the water released from Gavins Point Dam reaches that area, in 10 to 12 days, flood danger should be past.
Nixon’s office said that may not be the case, should more rain fall.
Here is Courthouse News’ Tuesday story on Nixon’s lawsuit, and a link to the filing.
Missouri Says Corps Of Engineers Is About To Exacerbate Flooding
ST. LOUIS, March 25 (CN) – In an act that beggars the imagination, the State of Missouri says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers refused its request to delay releasing water from a major dam on the Missouri River today, despite flooding that has killed 5 people, closed 147 roads and caused the president to declare 70 Missouri counties a disaster area. For two days beginning today, the Corps of Engineers plans to release 5,000 cubic feet of water per second from upstream reservoirs, though levees already have been breached.
The Corps’ annual “spring rise” water release is intended to “act as a spawning cue for the pallid sturgeon, an endangered species,” Attorney General Jay Nixon said in his federal complaint, even though “the most recent research has found that pallid sturgeon spawn without the spring rise.”
The complaint continues: “In light of the existing conditions, the state requested the Corps to cancel the March spring rise on many occasions. By letter dated March 20, 2008, but received on March 21, the Corps advised Missouri that it intended to proceed with the March spring rise beginning in the middle of the week of March 24, 2008. On or about March 25, 2008, Defendants will increase releases into the channel of the Missouri River from Gavins Point Dam to create a spring rise in the hope that it will encourage pallid sturgeon to spawn in the Missouri River, despite the flood conditions in Missouri and despite the recent science indicating the spring rise is completely unnecessary for the fish to spawn.
“It will take ten days for the water released for the spring rise to reach the mouth of the Missouri River near St. Louis. Once the Corps has released the water, the Corps cannot stop it at any point between Gavins Point Dam and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Nixon demands a restraining order and injunction.