Be careful who’s house you flood. They may end up being your US Senator.

From KELOland, this is both a little hilarious, and a sweet comeuppance:

South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds’ new job comes with a new responsibility, overseeing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s an agency that flooded his property nearly four years ago.

In the summer of 2011, the Corps of Engineers authorized record releases from dams along the Missouri River after a wet spring and a snowy winter in the Rocky Mountains. That water flooded out properties up and down the river in Pierre including Senator Rounds’ new home. Now he’s been given the job of overseeing the agency as the chairman of an Environment and Public Works subcommittee on oversight. Besides the Corps of Engineers the subcommittee also oversees the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We will be actively involved in that oversight. It’s an area I said during the campaign that I wanted to be involved with and I think we’ll have the opportunity to get South Dakota’s point of view in a number of areas in terms of how the agencies have been run and are still run,” Rounds said.

Read it all here.

Do you think anyone in the Corps of Engineers noticed this, and went “Oh, hell….”?

19 Replies to “Be careful who’s house you flood. They may end up being your US Senator.”

  1. PlanningStudent

    The Corp did not flood the Rounds home, the Good Lord did. Even if the Corp had opened up all the non emergency gates full blasts as soon as flippn possible the emergency gates would still have been needed, flooding Rounds and others. If the Corp had opted to maintain a lower level all winter behind the dam they still would have likely used the emergency gates. Not to mention the Corp has been sued by the State of SoDak for maintaining too low of levels behind the damn because that hurts recreation, irrigation, and drinking water supplies. The dam was designed to flood the area where Rounds and other built, why is it shock when it does? There’s even another emergency gate that wasn’t used that’s actually behind the development Rounds lives in, if it’s ever used they won’t even have homes to come back to, why would you ever on Gods green earth build and live in the shadow of that..?

    1. Annon

      Much of what you just stated is just simply false. The corp bears a great deal of responsibility in their handling of the flooding and it could have been avoided. Also the folks that built where they did were assured that they were above the flood plain. Mike and all the others were perfectly justified in being mad as Hell.

      1. mhs

        The flood plain question is actually a very complex issue. The flood plain designation at the time of the flood failed to take into account the rise in the riverbed below the dam caused by uncontrolled silting for the past 50 years.

        The Corps admitted this in the last decade when they began buying out entire neighborhoods in Pierre after rising groundwater made them uninhabitable. They are continuing to argue they do have the right to flood the downstream area, which is likely true, however, when damages are or are not recoverable from them is the issue: not whether they can flood.

        The Corps flood peaked at 160,000 CFS (cubic ft/sec). The 1960 flood, before the dam, peaked at 450,000 CFS and yet, the affected areas within Pierre and Fort Pierre were nearly identical. Proof positive the riverbed is much shallower than when the Dam first went in.

        FEMA and the Corps continuing failures to re-designate floodplains, thus making federal flood insurance available to those at risk, until after disaster is well-documented and the main issue here.

  2. Anonymous

    Why would Rounds even build a house in such an obvious flood plain and then expect the government to pay to repair or rebuild? That seems to be the opposite of “South Dakota Common Sense”.

  3. Troy Jones

    Planning Student,

    I think the point Pat is trying to make is there has been a debate on Corp. priorities for decades. Hydro power, flood control, recreation, navigation.

    For years, navigation has gotten a high priority which contributed to the flood and has diminished the recreation aspect. With Rounds now as Chair, the Corp will have no choice but to re-evaluate the priorities. This is great news for South Dakota.

  4. Troy Jones

    Anon 9:17:

    I generally agree with this statement: “The corp bears a great deal of responsibility in their handling of the flooding and it could have been avoided.”

    Except Congress is responsible because of the current law with regard to priorities. Lowering the priority of navigation would have prevented what occurred.

    I generally disagree with this statement: “Also the folks that built where they did were assured that they were above the flood plain.”

    They were above the 100 year flood plain but not the 500 flood plain. That said, again, if we weren’t maintaining levels to insure navigation, it never would have occurred because we didn’t have a 500 year flood but something around a 250 year flood.

    If there is actually 500 year flood conditions again, they will experience what happened and if they are mad, they are mad. Their houses are not above what I think they call the “Corp. take line” which above is where flooding only occurs if there is something catastrophic (e.g. a dam break).

    Bottomline: I think navigation should be either the lowest priority or not a priority at all. They didn’t have navigation assurance before the dams were built, those who gain “navigation” sacrificed no land to the dams, and they are the primary beneficiaries of flood control (which wasn’t an issue for us before the dams). We got flooded for their benefit and that is sufficient benefit for them. They don’t deserve navigation assurance.

    1. MC


      I agree the Corps is 100% responsible for the flooding.

      However, I disagree with notion that navigation should be the lowest priority or removed all together.

      The port of Kansas City process over 25,000,000 tons per year. Or about If they are unable to move that freight by water; it will be moved by rail or truck. That will increase shipping cost and raise prices on goods. We have rail shortage as it is, can we really afford diverting trains that should be moving grain to moving freight that would have been moved by much cheaper barges? I don’t think I need to tell you what all those extra truck are going to do to our roads.

      I hope our Junior Senator can strike a balance

  5. Anonymous

    It’s nice to see our junior senator using his full power to settle personal scores. Should we look forward to the next news story or press release where he gets Obamacare to pay for his dad’s surgery, so he can sleep again?

  6. Charlie Hoffman

    Troy you consistently bring up valid statistics along with undeniable facts which make it easier for those of us who don’t study certain issues as closely as you do to win an argumentative point.

    Thank you!!

  7. Anon

    Are you suggesting mike would use his authority to settle a personal score? A tad janklowesque don’t you think? Lots of people suffered losses from the flood. I would prefer mike advance decisions based on sound policy, and not because he got water in his basement.

  8. Anon.

    I am glad Mike Rounds is my Senator over Rick Weiland, but…. If he chooses to build on the flood plain of a river and depend on the federal gov. to protect him, that is his decision.

  9. Troy


    The following facts aren’t right but the illustration is accurate as I understand them

    The hydro-power priority sets a minimum ideal water level so the reservoirs can sustain 5 years of drought and still produce powere. The navigation is a three year drought but the navigation priority adds additional retention level.

    The navigation priority this increases the odds of a repeat of what occurred.

    If there was no navigation priority, the number of navigation days during such a drop goes down only 10 days. Said another way, removing the navigation altogether barely affects navigation but cuts the odds of a repeat significantly.

    Eliminate it or give them “coverage” over for only a two year drought.

    By the way, we have never had lost navigation days since the dams were built but have had flooding of various degrees multiple times. This tells me at minimum the balance is off.

  10. Kevin W. Nelson

    Due to the abundance of opinion on overseeing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I want to say my piece about overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency. I am pleased I got a trial subscription to Inside EPA/climate. I am disgusted that the EPA has an army of analysts, consultants & lawyers { paid by the taxpayers } to advance their AGENDA. They are allied with anti-Growth zealots like the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Resource Councils, and others. Their goal is to shut down coal-burning power plants, oil refineries and others. They want to redefine navigational waterways, restrict corn-based ethanol plants, and others. They don’t want to negotiate with petty obstacles like Congress, or States that exist in fly-over country. The federal government did not create the States. The States created the federal government. The EPA needs to be downsized at the very least.


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