NRCS Official Says 2011 Missouri River Flooding Different from 1993
The 2011 Missouri River flood will be a late event, Stephen Kennedy, resource conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) said in Brownville Sunday afternoon, July 10.
He spoke at the Brownville Lyceum about flooding of the river in Nemaha County.
Kennedy said that the water will stay high longer. It may be a year from now before repairs may begin. Some variables may be unknown until the water recedes, he said.
Kennedy said things are definitely changed when compared to the 1993 flood, which was caused by rainfall. The river’s flow will be consistent as long as more rain does not fall, he said. There was no substantial rainfall until recently, including July 7, he noted.
Flooding three of the last four years has triggered increased interest in the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP). Those programs do not always take effect until a certain number of acres are impacted, Kennedy said.
15,000 Acres of Cropland Inundated in Nemaha County
He said there are 15,000 acres of cropland in Nemaha County under water. That includes 5,000 acres at McKissick Island east of Peru. There will be major devastation for the duration of the flood, Kennedy said.
Peru has the most area in Nemaha County protected by levees, he said.
Crop ground may be saturated until a freeze later this year. Two crop years may be lost, he said.
Kennedy said that when river bottoms flood, wildlife is displaced and ends up concentrated in surrounding uplands. That places pressures on people living up in the hills, crops, vineyards and bushes, he said.
Across the river, the flooding could alter transportation for the long run and affect businesses, he said.
In the ECP program, farmers with damaged farmland can apply for the cost-share programs. ECP is mainly used after rainfall of six to 10 issues. If there are issues with the Little Nemaha River, that may add to ECP acreage, Kennedy said.
The EWP program involves public infrastructure. It requires a sponsoring entity such as officials of a county, municipality or natural resources district. Kennedy said that the program has been used in past years to repair rural water lines damaged by heavy rains.
The EWP program is to undertake emergency measures, including the purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.
The 1993 flooding led to a large request to enter the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). The first sign-up was in 1997. Most area acreage was enrolled in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Several attendees asked questions regarding the affect of the flood on the harvest; anything at the federal level that would help; and global warming, climate change and whether government programs can be flexible because of changing environmental patterns.
Kennedy said that he was unsure how the flooding will affect harvest, but it will have an affect on bids and prices for grain. Pressure will be placed on the local elevator to handle local grain, he said.
It is likely that the U.S. Senate will have hearings on how U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials handled what led to the flooding and there will likely be pressure on Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to adapt to the situation.
Fourteen U.S. senators from Nebraska and other states located along the Missouri River have requested a Senate hearing to investigate the Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the river before the recent flooding.
Kennedy said that the Farm Bill is rewritten every five years. It is adapted to agriculture. Recent Farm Bills have been more geared towards energy efficiency and locally grown foods, he said.