Missouri River Water Tour Planning Progresses

Dark marks on signs and buildings show how high Missouri River floodwaters got last summer near Rock Port, Mo. Photo by Steve Ress.
Dark marks on signs and buildings show how high Missouri River floodwaters got last summer near Rock Port, Mo. Photo by Steve Ress.

Plans are progressing for this summer’s Water and Natural Resources Tour, July 17-19, which will visit some of last year’s flooded areas of the Missouri River basin.

Tour co-organizers visited the proposed tour area and spoke with possible tour speakers for three days in mid-December.

“The challenge in organizing this tour is that the impacts of last spring and summer’s flooding in the basin are so vast and there are so many possible topics to cover that it’s a challenge of what not to include or what we can’t work into the three-day tour,” said co-organizer and Nebraska Water Center communicator Steve Ress.

“The learning opportunities in terms of what the flood’s impacts are and what they will continue to be in the near- and long-term future are exceptionally varied and broad,” said tour host and co-organizer Mike Jess.

In December, Ress, Jess, Jeff Buettner of Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and Jennie Nollette of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce looked at tour venues and spoke with possible speakers from South Sioux City to Sidney, Iowa.

“Evidence of last summer’s devastation from the flood is still very evident and in many cases startling,” Ress said.

Organizers looked at effects from the flood in South Sioux City and Dakota City before heading south to the Decatur, Tekamah and Blair areas, where they looked at how the flood had affected roads, bridges, pipelines, homes, agricultural land and even a wildlife refuge.

The group spoke with local farmers, representatives of Natural Resource Districts and municipal water providers, as well as with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha Public Power District, Omaha Airport Authority and others.

“In total, we hope to explore issues connected to the recent flooding to include river management and use, post-flood reconstruction of infrastructure and agricultural lands, fish and wildlife and natural resources issues, what effects the flood has had on agriculture and life in the basin, emergency response to the flood and many other issues,” Ress said.

Other topics of local and historical interest, such as sites connected with Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery expedition and even a historic windmill factory museum, are being considered as part of the tour in July.

Overnight stops will likely be in downtown Omaha, where the tour most likely will begin and end, and at Nebraska City’s Lied Lodge and Conference Center.

Co-organizers will make another trip to the proposed tour area in early spring in order to finalize stops and speakers and to develop a tour route and other details.

“After that we will publish a tour itinerary and registration details,” Jess said.

Tour cosponsors include Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Geological Survey Nebraska Water Science Center, UNL Nebraska Water Center, and NU’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute.
Tour questions should be directed to Ress at sress1@unl.edu or by phoning 402-472-9549.

Tour itinerary and registration details will be posted online at watercenter.unl.edu as soon as they are available. Prior tour participants and others who have expressed interest in this summer’s tour can also expect to receive a registration mailing from the Kearney Chamber later this spring.

-- Steve Ress, Nebraska Water Center

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/sqd