Corps: No release of reservoir water on Missouri River

Thursday, March 2, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday that it will not conduct a spring pulse this month on the Missouri River, after deciding the amount of water in its system of reservoirs is too low.

The corps had planned for man-made releases in March and May to encourage spawning by an endangered fish, the pallid sturgeon. However, the corps said reservoirs along the river contained just 36.3 million acre feet of water Wednesday morning, 200,000 acre feet below the minimum set by the corps.

The March pulse would have been the first release of water under the corps' plan for a spring rise. That plan is the result of more than a decade of legal wrangling among diverse interests along the river, including environmental groups, farmers, recreational groups and the barge industry.

Missouri officials are concerned a release of water could flood farms and hurt the barge industry, while officials in Montana and the Dakotas worry enough water may not be left in reservoirs for boating and fishing interests.

But several environmental groups that see the plan as the best way to protect river wildlife.

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