News Releases

Draft Environmental Assessment on Snow and Soil Moisture Monitoring Network in the Upper Missouri River Basin available for comment

Published Jan. 9, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. – A draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for updating three soil moisture and plains snowpack monitoring stations is currently available for public comment. The EA evaluates the environmental impacts of updating monitoring stations in Brookings, South Dakota; Sheridan, Wyoming; and Bozeman, Montana.

From December 2018 through July 2019, South Dakota State University climatologists conducted various instrumentation and measurement techniques to test the practicability and accuracy of different technologies in snow and soil moisture monitoring stations on campus in Brookings. This effort resulted in recommendations that are being implemented in three pilot monitoring stations with the goal of implementing a large scale monitoring network throughout the upper Missouri River basin. 

The public is encouraged to provide comments on the draft EA which is available for viewing at: Comments can be mailed to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District; CENWO-PMA-C; ATTN: Rebecca Podkowka; 1616 Capitol Avenue; Omaha, NE 68102-4901. Comments can also be emailed to: Comments must be postmarked or received no later than February 10, 2020. 

This EA is consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR 1500-1508), the Corps’ regulations for implementing NEPA (33 CFR 325 and Engineering Regulation 200-2-2) and other applicable environmental laws and regulations. 

BACKGROUND: Following the 2011 flood event on the Missouri River, the Corps and an Independent Review Team comprised of academic expertise and officials from various federal agencies developed the 2013 Upper Missouri River Basin Monitoring Committee: Snow Sampling and Instrumentation Recommendations interagency report. The report outlined the need to improve snowpack and soil moisture monitoring in the upper Missouri River basin, specifically Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. This recommendation was authorized under the Water Resources Reform Development Act of 2014, as amended by §1179(b) of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 which designated the Corps as the lead federal agency for the mass deployment of a plains snowpack and soil moisture monitoring network. The smaller proof-of-concept effort outlined in the draft EA will provide insights on instrumentation and collection methods to inform the deployment of the large-scale effort.

Omaha District Public Affairs

Release no. 20-005