Minutes of the

81st Quarterly Meeting

of the

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

February 27, 2002

Bloomington, Minnesota

 

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:40 a.m. by UMRBA Chair Steve Morse.  The following State Representatives and Federal Liaison Representatives were present:

 

Don Vonnahme

Illinois Representative (IL DNR)

Gary Clark

Illinois Alternate (IL DNR)

John Hey

Iowa Representative (IA DOT)

Kevin Szcodronski

Iowa Representative (IA DNR)

Steve Morse

Minnesota Alternate (MN DNR)

Steve Johnson

Minnesota Alternate (MN DNR)

Dick Lambert

Minnesota Alternate (MN DOT)

Jerry Vineyard

Missouri Alternate (MO DNR)

Terry Moe

Wisconsin Alternate (WI DNR)

Ellen Fisher

Wisconsin Alternate (WI DOT)

Stan Shaw

Wisconsin Alternate (WI DATCP)

 

Steve Cobb

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 5)

Jason Neubauer

U.S. Coast Guard (St. Paul MSD)

Don Hansen

U.S. Geological Survey (WRD)

Linda Leake

U.S. Geological Survey (UMESC)

Charlie Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Region 3)

Lillian Woods

U.S. Department of Agriculture (NRCS)

 

Others in attendance:

 

Marvin Hora

Minnesota PCA

Paul Burns

Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture

Scott Stuewe

Illinois DNR

Gary Christoff

Missouri DOC

Rich Worthington

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (HQ)

Greg Ruff

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Gary Loss

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Roger Perk

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Scott Whitney

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Jerry Skalak

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Deb Foley

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Dave Leake

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Mike Thompson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Brian Markert

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Keith Beseke

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dan Stinnett

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Rick Nelson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/UMRCC

Al Fenedick

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dan McGuiness

Audubon Upper Mississippi River Campaign

Jeff Stein

American Rivers

Mark Beorkrem

Mississippi River Basin Alliance

Bill Redding

Midwest Sierra Club

Mark Muller

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Chris Brescia

MARC 2000

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

 

Meeting Minutes

 

Terry Moe moved and Don Vonnahme seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the November 14, 2001 meeting as drafted.  The motion was approved by consensus.

 

Executive Director’s Report

 

Holly Stoerker reported that the Hypoxia Task Force met on February 7 and 8 in St. Louis, its first meeting since publication of the Hypoxia Action Plan in January 2001.  Among the issues discussed was how to organize and implement the sub-basin planning efforts recommended in the Action Plan.  Considerations include the geographic size of the sub-basins, composition of the planning teams, and the roles and responsibilities of the teams.  UMRBA staff is monitoring these deliberations and offering assistance as appropriate.  While UMRBA may be considered as a potential organizational structure for undertaking sub-basin planning, Stoerker emphasized that the Hypoxia Task Force continues to be the forum at which such issues are being addressed.

 

The UMRBA Water Quality Coordination project is in the information-gathering phase.  Jon Steadland has visited each of the state water quality agencies to discuss the project and compile information on the states’ 305(b) assessments and 303(d) listings for the Mississippi River.  In addition, Jon is working to compile information on each state’s nutrient reduction efforts, with the goal of preparing a report describing existing programs, as background for the Hypoxia-related discussions.  A June meeting of the Water Quality Task Force is being planned as a working session to discuss different state approaches to assessments and listings on the Mississippi River mainstem.  Marvin Hora of Minnesota PCA, chair of the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force, commented that the Task Force members are excited about the project and looking forward to the June meeting.

 

UMRBA staff will be attending the annual Washington Roundtable sponsored by the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP).  WRDA 2002 will be among the issues discussed.  Stoerker invited UMRBA members to contact her if they had any suggested policy changes for inclusion in WRDA.  She also noted that ICWP has published the results of its survey of interstate river basin organizations, describing the variety of institutional structures, roles, and issues in which such institutions are involved across the country.  UMRBA is among 13 organizations described in the report.

 

Stoerker noted that UMRBA staff has not been able to publish a UMRBA Update since late January, given the higher priority demands and workload.  However, she expressed hope that the Update could return to a more regular schedule soon.

 

Barb Naramore reported on the on-going discussions regarding establishment of a UMR early warning monitoring network for spills.  There is significant interest in pursuing such a network, given that water suppliers cannot go off-line for long.  Existing monitoring efforts, however, are not designed to specifically address the needs of water utilities and thus do not necessarily monitor the right parameters or at the right frequency.  Issues currently under consideration include the number and location of monitoring stations, the need for 24-hour coordination and access to monitoring data, key parameters to be monitored, start-up and operating costs, and relationship to other existing monitoring efforts.  There has also been interest in broader coordination efforts related to source water protection.  UMRBA staff is continuing to work with a wide variety of state, federal, and private interests to develop a more specific proposal for future action.

 

In response to Stoerker’s mention of WRDA 2002, Don Vonnahme requested clarification on the status of draft WRDA proposals within the Administration.  Rich Worthington explained that the Corps has developed a draft proposal, but that OMB has not yet approved it.  Worthington was not optimistic that the Administration would have a proposal in advance of the WRDA hearings scheduled for mid-March.  He also commented that it was unlikely that the Administration would support changes in cost sharing or an expanded role for the Corps in water supply, both of which have been included in draft WRDA proposals under consideration within the Corps.

 

States’ Perspectives on Rescoped Navigation Study

 

Steve Morse explained that at its last meeting in November 2001, the UMRBA decided to develop a document describing the states’ perspectives regarding the rescoped Navigation Study, including preliminary recommendations for future action.  Morse thanked UMRBA staff for bringing together many disparate views in preparing the draft document currently before the state members for action at this meeting.

 

Holly Stoerker described the structure and content of the draft document, noting that it includes general comments as well as more specific recommendations.  The general comments describe the states’ views on such topics as O&M, mitigation, and cost-sharing.  The preliminary recommendations include an expression of support for small scale and nonstructural navigation improvements and lock capacity expansions that are economically justified and environmentally acceptable.  In addition, the paper recommends a variety of actions to restore and enhance ecological functions, including mitigation of navigation traffic impacts, ecosystem O&M, habitat restoration through the EMP, and enhanced floodplain acquisition.  With regard to floodplain management, the document recommends using the planning authority provided in Section 459 of WRDA 99 to address these issues.  The draft also expresses some concerns about the Corps’ apparent interest in pursuing development of a comprehensive plan in the context of the Navigation Study.

 

Terry Moe commented that the draft does not address public involvement.  He suggested revising the 3rd paragraph in the Introduction to express support for the study’s collaborative process and urge that the process include opportunities for individual citizens to be involved.  Holly Stoerker offered specific language to reflect Moe’s suggestion.  The language was accepted by consensus as a revision to the draft.

 

Jerry Vineyard said one of the challenges with regard to the recommendation for increased land acquisition will be the increased need for O&M of that land.  Vineyard noted that he is not recommending that the states’ perspective document necessarily be revised.  However, he urged all agencies to consider ways to more actively involve private landowners in environmental land management, given that state and federal agencies are increasingly limited in their ability to manage lands that they acquire.  Steve Morse noted that acquisition also includes conservation easements and that public ownership should not be the only acquisition strategy.  He also emphasized that the states’ recommendation for increased floodplain land acquisition is strictly in the context of willing sellers.  Morse commented that Minnesota envisions a Trust Fund as the mechanism for land acquisition because it would enable a nimble response to acquisition opportunities.  Minnesota DNR has estimated that $750 million would be needed for such a fund over 10 years.

 

Terry Moe commented that the mitigation discussion on page 3 should not be interpreted to suggest that NEPA requirements be bypassed.  He stressed that the states’ de-emphasis of mitigation is conditioned on identifying and addressing the full range of environmental needs.  Moe said he agrees that it is more productive to look forward than to dwell on the past, but legal obligations must be met. 

 

Steve Morse suggested two specific changes to the draft.  On page 6, he recommended that the sentence “The EMP should continue to be the primary programmatic vehicle….” be changed to say it is “a primary programmatic vehicle….” Morse explained that other strategies, such as land acquisition, are also important.  On page 7, Morse suggested that the word “environmental” be inserted as a modifier of “pool plans” to more accurately reflect the current focus of those plans.  There were no objections to Morse’s suggested changes.

 

Terry Moe commented that the states’ position paper does not recommend any specific strategy for how expenditures from the recommended mitigation trust fund would be triggered.  Moe did not offer any changes to the draft text, but suggested that the Corps begin to think about what trigger mechanism may be most appropriate.  Moe mentioned traffic levels and decreases in environmental indicators as examples of such triggers.  Moe also said that, in setting triggers, consideration should be given to the fact that it is better to prevent damages than correct damages later.

 

Charlie Wooley said that his initial impressions of the states’ document are favorable, although he has not reviewed it thoroughly.  He agreed with Jerry Vineyard’s comments regarding the need to work with private landowners and thanked the states for their support of increased funding for refuge O&M. 

 

Steve Cobb commented that trust funds are difficult to establish.  Most existing trust funds are based on a specific tax.  Congress is reluctant to appropriate general revenues for trust funds, thus losing its control over how the funds are spent.  Cobb noted that the Corps can keep a Construction General (CG) project account open over time for adaptive mitigation and that such an approach may be preferable to a trust fund.  Holly Stoerker observed that an open CG account may accommodate the need for expenditures over time, but does not offer any assurance that the mitigation work will be funded and undertaken, which is a concern that the trust fund concept attempts to address.  Chris Brescia questioned whether Congress would need to reauthorize mitigation if those mitigation needs change over time as a result of adaptive management, even if there is funding set aside in advance.  He also cautioned that accessing trust funds can be problematic, as evidenced by the experience with the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which has money that can’t be spent because Congress has not appropriated the matching funds.  Jon Duyvejonck said that the open CG account option is not attractive based on the experience with Lock and Dam 26 mitigation.   Gary Christoff said that a trust fund approach was tried on the Missouri River, but rejected by Congress.  He suggested consideration be given to alternatives, such as setting aside a percentage of annual appropriations for future mitigation.  Christoff also noted that, while the idea of keeping a CG account open is attractive, that approach did not work well on the Osage River.  He explained that an opportunity to address paddlefish needs was lost because the Corps had closed the account.  Now the project needs to be reauthorized. 

 

Dan McGuiness summarized the position of Audubon, noting that they support the restructured study and the new study guidance.  Referencing the mitigation discussion on page 3 of the States’ Perspectives document, McGuiness noted that NEPA requirements should not be sidestepped.  With regard to cost sharing, he commented that cost sharing is impeding good projects on the river and expressed support for taking a fresh look at cost sharing as part of the Navigation Study.  He also applauded the concept of a trust fund, despite Congressional reluctance to establish such funding mechanisms.  With regard to navigation improvements, McGuiness urged the Corps to evaluate both structural and nonstructural measures, including traffic scheduling, as recommended by the National Research Council.  Finally, McGuiness acknowledged that development of a comprehensive plan will be challenging, but urged the Corps and states to pursue such an integrated plan.  He concluded by saying that the States’ Perspectives document is a good first effort.

 

Jeff Stein said that the mitigation question is important because it relates directly to the issue of cost sharing and “who pays.”  He also commented that, given the reluctance of Congress to establish trust funds, it might be possible to build on the existing Inland Waterways Trust Fund. 

 

Mark Beorkrem noted that the States’ Perspectives document expresses support for navigation projects that are economically justified and environmentally acceptable.  He cautioned that the economic analysis to date has not accounted for the cost of mitigating environmental impacts.  When those costs and the costs of O&M are factored in, the economic justifications may change significantly.

 

Chris Brescia commented that the States’ Perspectives document has a balanced and positive tone and that it is a well-crafted expression of a complicated issue.  With regard to restoration vs. mitigation, MARC 2000 supports a forward-looking view and the idea of the federal government paying for restoring the river to its baseline environmental condition.  He also expressed support for the mitigation trust fund concept and the need to define a “trigger” for using such a fund.  Noting the political barriers, he urged UMRBA to think of innovative financing ideas and work to develop and pursue a consensus approach with other stakeholders.   Finally, Brescia indicated that the states’ recommendations regarding floodplain connectivity, while important, would raise concerns within the agricultural community.  Of particular concern is the definition of a “willing seller.”  Brescia said that it will be important to identify the type, amount, and location of land that is being considered for acquisition. 

 

Jerry Skalak questioned whether recreational needs and users are being given sufficient consideration.  Dan McGuiness suggested that the States’ Perspectives document be revised to reflect the relationship between recreation and a healthy ecosystem.

 

Don Vonnahme thanked everyone for their comments and suggestions, but emphasized that the States’ Perspective document was designed to reflect the states’ views and not necessarily all parties’ perspectives.  He urged that no further changes be made to the document.  Jeff Stein said that his comments should be considered by Illinois because he is a resident of that state.

 

Don Vonnahme moved and Jerry Vineyard seconded a motion to approve the States’ Perspectives document, with the changes proposed earlier by Moe and Stoerker regarding public participation, and by Morse regarding the EMP and pool plans.  The motion passed by consensus.

 

Steve Morse thanked the UMRBA staff for their efforts in preparing the document and asked that staff officially transmit the final version to the Corps of Engineers.

 

Denny Lundberg said the States’ Perspective paper would be very useful to the Corps as it moves forward with the study.  He asked if the paper represents the views of the Governors’ Liaison Committee (GLC), given that GLC is the Corps’ formal coordination body with the states for the Navigation Study.  All UMRBA member states indicated that the UMRBA paper also represents the GLC position.  Lundberg requested that other stakeholder groups and federal agencies prepare position papers similar to what the states have developed, describing their views as input to the Interim Report. 

 

FY 2003 Federal Budget

 

Environmental Protection Agency — Bill Franz distributed a series of tables outlining FY 00 - FY 02 budget allocations to the basin states for each of several EPA water programs.  He noted that the state allocations for FY 03 have not yet been determined, although the Administration’s budget proposes national funding levels for the programs.  Section 106 funding increased from FY 00 to FY 01, but is expected to remain relatively stable in FY 03.  Funding for Section 319 and Section 604(b) will also stay the same. States can keep up to 60 percent of Section 604(b) funds, with the balance going to planning organizations.  In FY 02, each Region 5 state was provided $300,000 in Section 104(b) TMDL funding and NPDES funding, with the balance being awarded on a competitive basis.  Holly Stoerker noted that Section 104(b) was the funding source for the UMRBA water quality coordination project grant.  

 

Corps of Engineers — Greg Ruff reported that the President’s FY 03 budget proposes $4.3 billion for the Corps of Engineers, with an emphasis on completing projects already in progress.  Consequently, the budget includes no new planning or construction starts.  MVD’s construction funding is proposed to decrease from the FY 02 level of $260 million to $138 million in FY 03.  Among the projects being cut is the EMP, which is funded at $12.2 million, significantly less than the $33 million that was the Corps’ expressed capability.  The Navigation Study is slated to get $1 million, but has a capability of $3.685 million.  The Flow Frequency Study is budgeted at $500,000, with a capability of $995,000. 

 

In response to a question from Terry Moe, Ruff explained that the FY 03 savings and slippage rate is anticipated to be 16 percent, similar to the past two years.  Savings and slippage will be difficult to restore in FY 02, given the tight CG budget, which will generate significant competition for added funds.  Steve Cobb noted that the FY 03 budget policy of no new starts hurts the EMP because each new EMP project is considered a new start.

 

It was suggested that the states consider sending a joint Governors’ letter to the President expressing concern about the proposed FY 03 EMP budget and communicating their concerns directly to OMB in advance of FY 04 budget decisions.  Don Vonnahme noted that Governor Ryan has already submitted his letter on the Corps’ FY 03 budget.  Terry Moe commented that a joint Governors’ letter is always difficult and that individual letters may be more efficient and practical.  UMRBA Chair Steve Morse asked UMRBA staff to prepare a draft letter that each state could use in discussions with their Governor’s office. 

 

U.S. Geological Survey — Linda Leake distributed a packet of briefing materials on the proposed FY 03 USGS budget, which is $47 million less than the FY 02 budget.  The budget focuses on USGS’s core mission, including mapping and hazards, and emphasizes activities that directly support DOI land management information needs.  BRD activities proposed for reductions include amphibian research (-$500,000), Mark Twain National Forest Mining (-$748,000), equipment for the Great Lakes Science Center (-$416,000), and pallid sturgeon studies (-$300,000).  The WRD budget is slated for a $28 million reduction, including cuts to NAWQA (-$5.8 million), Toxic Substances Hydrology (-$13.9 million), State Water Resources Research Institutes (-$6 million), and the National Streamflow Information Program (-$2.1 million).  The Toxic Substances Hydrology Program would be transferred to the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

 

Don Hansen explained that stream gages are being cut across the nation, with approximately three in each UMR state proposed for elimination.  Of the 42 total NAWQA study units, four are within in the UMRB and will likely see a reduced effort.  Funding for the federal-state co-op program will remain stable, which translates into a cut of between 5 and 6 percent in real terms.  In Minnesota, for instance, this will mean a cut of about $50,000 - $60,000.

 

In response to a question, Hansen explained that the decision to move the Toxics Substances Hydrology Program to NSF was based on the theory that improved science would result from a more competitive grant process.  Holly Stoerker noted that the states have always argued that water science should remain in USGS to ensure objectivity that is often lost when research and monitoring are privatized. 

 

Stoerker asked how USGS decided which stream gages would be eliminated.  Hansen indicated that the decision was probably based on the length of record, but likely also included consideration of state and local interests and preferences.  Don Vonnahme said that his staff in Illinois was consulted.  Illinois spends about $500,000 annually on gages.

 

Fish and Wildlife Service — Charlie Wooley distributed material summarizing the Fish and Wildlife Service’s FY 03 budget, particularly as it is expected to affect the UMR.  The Ecological Services’ UMR work is estimated at $375,000 in FY 02, but there are additional needs totaling $2.5 million.  FY 02 funding for the three UMR refuges is $14.786 million, which is a 56 percent increase largely due to flood-related needs.  The FY 03 budget proposes a $56 million increase for refuge O&M nationwide in preparation for the Refuge System Centennial in 2004.  The FY 02 Fisheries budget includes funding for mussel recovery at the Genoa Hatchery.  While a $1 million reduction in FY 03 is planned for hatcheries, it will not likely affect the UMR hatcheries.

 

In response to a question regarding O&M funding for EMP projects on refuges, Wooley explained that the increases planned for refuge O&M in FY 03 are intended for facilities, not EMP projects.  There is still an urgent need to secure long term funding for O&M of EMP projects on refuges.

 

Terry Moe said that increased funding for refuge law enforcement is needed, observing that state law enforcement personnel are troubled by the uncontrolled use of refuge lands.  Dan Stinnett noted that, of the $56 million increase for refuges in FY 03, $26 million will be available for staffing.  Of that amount, a large portion will likely be devoted to law enforcement.  Keith Beseke said that the Upper Mississippi Refuge will be hiring two new full time law enforcement personnel. 

 

Department of Agriculture — Lillian Woods distributed a summary of the FY 03 budget request for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), noting that it includes an increase to $1.33 billion.  However, FTEs will decrease by 254 to 10,756.  Funding for Conservation Technical Assistance is slated to increase by $108 million, but funding for watershed surveys, watershed and flood prevention operations, the watershed rehabilitation program, and the Forestry Incentives Program will be eliminated.  Funding for Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) will increase to $52 million, supporting work in 348 RCD areas nationwide.  The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) have both reached their authorized acreage limits and thus there is no funding included in the FY 03 budget for these programs.  However, Woods explained that the Farm Bill, which is currently in conference committee, will increase authorized funding for these and other conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  For example, the FY 03 budget includes $200 million for EQIP, but the Farm Bill would increase EQIP annual authorized funding to $1.02 billion in the House version or $1.3 billion in the Senate version.  According to Woods, the intent is to increase both FY 02 and FY 03 funding based on the results of the Farm Bill conference.

 

Coast Guard — Lieutenant Jason Neubauer said the Coast Guard budget will increase substantially in FY 03, largely as a result of increased spending for homeland defense.  Approximately 50 percent of the Coast Guard budget will be devoted to homeland defense in FY 03, compared to about 5 percent previously.  The Marine Safety Office (MSO) in St. Louis has approximately 100 people, of which 60 percent are now assigned to homeland defense.  There are now more patrols on the river, with a shift in emphasis from vessel safety to enforcement.  Neubauer commented that the focus on homeland defense will likely mean fewer staff will be available for on-scene spill investigations, boating safety classes, and vessel inspections. 

 

Federal Emergency Management Agency — In the absence of a FEMA representative, Holly Stoerker distributed a summary of FEMA’s FY 03 budget proposal and noted that the budget includes $300 million for floodplain mapping.

 

UMRBA Budget Testimony — Holly Stoerker thanked the federal partners for their presentations.  She explained that UMRBA staff will use the testimony from last year as a starting point to draft FY 03 testimony, but will change program areas of emphasis to reflect the various shifts in Administration priorities discussed at this meeting.   When staff has completed a draft, it will be e-mailed to UMRBA representatives and alternates for review and comment.  Stoerker noted that the review schedule will likely be tight because many of the Appropriation Committee due dates are coming up soon.

 

Stoerker also noted that UMRBA will likely be receiving an invitation to testify on the EMP at a March 21 hearing of the Mississippi River Congressional Caucus.  UMRBA Chair Steve Morse affirmed that staff should accept the invitation and participate in the hearing. 

 

Testimony on H.R. 3480

 

Holly Stoerker explained that the House Resources Committee has scheduled a March 7 hearing on H.R. 3480.  This bill is the third version of legislation originally introduced in 2000 to address sediment and nutrients in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.  Representative Kind and the other sponsors of the bill have streamlined the legislation so that it now focuses exclusively on USGS monitoring and modeling.

 

Stoerker said UMRBA staff has been trying to arrange for Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Karen Studders to testify at the March 7 hearing.  However, it does not appear that will be possible, so UMRBA staff is prepared to testify.  UMRBA staff has testified previously at two hearings on an earlier version of the legislation.  Stoerker explained that staff drafted testimony that was reviewed by the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force.  She noted that there are two proposed changes to the February 22 draft testimony circulated previously.  The first change would add a section describing the relationship of the authorized monitoring and modeling to the work being done by the Hypoxia Task Force.  The second change would expand the discussion of the impacts of proposed FY 03 budget cuts in USGS water programs.  Terry Moe moved and Don Vonnahme seconded a motion to approve the draft testimony as revised.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

Flood Mapping

 

Don Vonnahme reported on the on-going discussions among the States, FEMA, and the Corps regarding updates to the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS).  The Corps’ current Flow Frequency Study will produce a uniform set of flood profiles, which should be useful in updating FIRMs.  FIRMs are used for both insurance and regulatory purposes.  It is estimated that $30 million will be needed to convert the Corps’ floodplain identification to a regulatory floodway needed for FIRMs and to digitize the maps for the Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Lower Missouri Rivers. 

 

Vonnahme said FEMA’s annual funding for mapping has been limited to roughly $10 million to $20 million nationwide.  Therefore, last year, FEMA proposed funding the $30 million UMR mapping work by dividing the costs 1/3 FEMA, 1/3 states, and 1/3 Corps.  However, FEMA’s FY 03 budget includes a major increase in mapping funds to $300 million.  According to Vonnahme this will likely change the context of the discussions between FEMA and the states.  The UMRBA has been facilitating conference calls to discuss FIRM updates, with the next one scheduled for March 4.  At that time, Vonnahme said he anticipates the states will urge FEMA to drop its cost-share proposal.  The states believe that flood maps are a federal responsibility.  In addition, Vonnahme said none of the seven states in this basin has funding for maps in FY 02, nor are they optimistic that funding will be available in FY 03.  In addition, the Corps is not confident that it would be able to use its Flow Frequency study authority to provide funding for FIRM updates.

 

Vonnahme indicated that the states are also interested in exploring ways to reduce the estimated cost for FIRM updates.  One possibility is to narrow the mapping effort to floodplain areas, rather than the county-wide maps of particular interest to FEMA. 

 

Gary Loss said that, at a recent meeting with the Director of FEMA Region 7, the Corps recommended that the UMR maps be given priority.  According to Loss, FEMA’s priority appears to be updating older maps. 

 

Interbasin Diversion Charter

 

Holly Stoerker explained that the UMRBA annual meeting is the time at which, under the terms of the 1989 Charter, each state reports on out-of-basin diversion requests that may have been made during the previous year.  Each state reported that no diversion requests exceeding the charter threshold had been made.  UMRBA staff will transmit a letter to each of the five Governors describing the results of the required consultation.

 

Election of Officers

 

Jerry Vineyard moved and Don Vonnahme seconded a motion to elect Kevin Szcodronski as Chair of the UMRBA.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Don Vonnahme moved and Terry Moe seconded a motion to elect Mike Wells as UMRBA Vice Chair.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Future Meeting Schedule

 

The future quarterly meeting schedule for the combined GLC, UMRBA, and EMP-CC meetings includes May 14-16 in the Quad Cities and August 6-8 in St. Louis.  It was agreed that the fall meetings will be held November 19-21 in the Twin Cities.

 

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:50 pm.