Coalition Report

By Maisah Khan, 
Clean water director
Coalition for the Environment

2020 Flooding Outlook

Last year was a devastating, destructive year when it came to flooding and extreme weather events. It was the second wettest year in the Missouri River basin since record-keeping began, and the river spent a record 279 days above flood stage. Now, as we look to this year’s spring flooding season, the outlook is grim.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the outlook for 2020 anticipates “significant flooding” along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. One of the key factors in this forecast is soil moisture content levels, especially in the headwaters regions of both the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. Much of this area is in the 99th percentile for soil moisture, which indicates that the soil is extremely saturated going into this spring season. Many communities, especially those along the Missouri River, are facing a new flooding season without having recovered entirely from the last. 

Flooding will continue to be an issue to watch closely throughout 2020. Last summer, Governor Parson appointed the Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group (FRAWG) to look at the impacts of flooding and provide recommendations for moving forward. The FRAWG will submit a final report in May, and they submitted an interim report in December. Their interim report makes no mention of the impact of climate change on flooding or the importance of wildlife habitat (like restored floodplains and wetlands) to mitigating flood risk. Missouri Coalition for the Environment coordinated a group of allied organizations to submit a set of recommendations to be considered by the FRAWG as they develop their final report. You can read our report on MCE’s website, and take its recommendations by signing a public petition to the governor.  

At the federal level, we are also working with partners to track the Water Resources 

Development Act (WRDA) process in 2020. 

WRDA is a major piece of federal legislation that contains rules and guidance for how agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can manage our waterways infrastructure — including locks, dams, and flood control structures. We are urging our Congresspeople to mainstream the use of “natural infrastructure” in the WRDA 2020 process. Natural infrastructure – healthy rivers, floodplains, wetlands, and shorelines – protects communities, allow fish and wildlife to thrive, and drive the outdoor economy. It is a vital but underused tool for reducing flood and storm damages and improving the effectiveness and resilience of levees and other infrastructure. 

Learn more and take action at our website: moenviron.org.