Rounds proposes legislation to ramp up flood monitoring around Missouri River Basin

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) on Aug. 5 introduced the Missouri River Basin Drought and Snowpack Monitoring Act to help improve flood monitoring in the Missouri River Basin area.

Sen. Rounds is the lead original cosponsor of S. 4444 with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to require installation of a network of soil moisture and snowpack monitoring in the Upper Missouri River Basin and would establish a pilot program for the acquisition and use of data generated by that network, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“Our legislation would force the federal government’s hand with the force of law,” Sen. Rounds said. “It will enable the full completion of a system that accurately forecasts snowmelt effects so that the Army Corps of Engineers water management team makes the best decisions to protect the people who make their homes in the Missouri River Basin.”

Among several provisions, S. 4444 specifically would authorize funding for the Corps’ continued installation of a network of weather monitoring stations, as well as funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to implement a pilot program to acquire and utilize the data, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Rounds’ office. 

“South Dakotans are all too familiar with the devastating impact flooding can have when the river is not properly managed,” said Sen. Rounds. “Since coming to the Senate, I’ve pushed the Corps of Engineers to implement the snowpack monitoring system that was recommended after the 2011 flood and included in a 2014 water resources bill. 

“And, we’ve been successful in assuring dozens of monitoring sites scheduled to be operational by next year, with over 400 more in the coming years,” he added. 

South Dakota State University endorsed the measure, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.