It has been a year since flooding hit parts of Iowa. The southwestern region saw the most damage due to flooding along the Missouri River. While events of 2020 make it feel like a long time ago, it isn’t for the people who had to live through it. COVID-19 might be taking up the lion’s share of the focus in Congress, but on Thursday Senator Joni Ernst said other important pieces of legislation are still moving.
Senator Ernst told us about a bipartisan package to support the nation’s water infrastructure that received unanimous support from the Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Ernst said many provisions she led are in the package. One of those provisions requires the Army Corps of Engineers to do a comprehensive study of the Missouri river and develop a strategy to address the flood risks of areas along the river affected during the 2019 flood.
The Senator explains what they hope to learn and accomplish through these efforts.
Ernst says the current approach is not working.
Another provision offers 100%cost-share agreements for small rural towns and the Federal government on flood control projects. This will help keep small communities from being tapped out.
Also, the legislation allows the Corps of Engineers to decide if temporary flood control structures should be made permanent. If they decide to make them permanent, the Corps will pay for it. Senator Ernst said the town of Hamburg, Iowa was the basis for this part of the legislation.
Ernst says another provision will make the Corps accountable to Congress for projects that are more than $100 million and/or five years behind schedule.
The Army Corps of Engineers took a lot of heat for their handling of flood control measures in both 2011 and 2019. Senator Ernst says Congress does not want this to happen again.