The nation's governors are taking a stand against a proposal to charge communities for Missouri River water.
Governor Dennis Daugaard says the National Governors Association recently endorsed a policy that makes it clear that states should have jurisdiction over the natural flow of the river.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brought forward a proposal in the last year that would charge communities for water they draw from the Missouri River.
"The Corps' proposal frustrates me to no end," Chamberlain City Engineer Greg Powell said in October 2012 of the plan.
"This is absolutely outrageous in terms of what it means to South Dakota both accessing water that is our water," South Dakota Senator John Thune added last fall.
That was the reaction when the Corps was taking comments on the proposal in October 2012; it’s a plan that now has the National Governors Association taking action.
"Their rationale is that as the dams created some surplus water, then the federal government should be reimbursed for the water that was there by surplus as a consequence of that," South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard said.
Daugaard is the chair of the Natural Resources Committee for the NGA. The committee adopted a policy at the end of February that gives states jurisdiction over the natural flow of a river.
"States have pushed back, saying that ignores the fact that some of those rivers flow around the year and that there would always be some natural flow," Daugaard said.
For instance, in Chamberlain, the city draws its water from the bottom of the river so it argues the city doesn't need the Army Corps of Engineers' dams to create surplus water in the river.
Daugaard says the governors adopted the policy to make sure the Corps knows it will have resistance if it moves forward with its proposal.
"So we're engaging with the federal government on that issue," Daugaard said.
The Army Corps of Engineers expects to complete its final reports on the plan for the Missouri River sometime early this year.