Over 200 Landowners, farmers and small-business owners have joined the lawsuit Ideker Farms, Inc. et al v. United States of America alleging they incurred property damage as a result of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri River from 2006 to 2013. Reuters May 5, 2014.
The lawsuit alleges the Army Corps of Engineers changed their priorities from flood management to environmental management; resulting in increased frequency and severity of flooding along the length of the river. According to the lawsuit website www.missouririverflooding.com, the action is not based on “mismanagment of the river” since the Corps’ was acting in conformance with new environmental laws and regulations. Rather, the Corps’ shift in managment has resulted in a taking of land from the landowners, farmers and business owners in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Consequently, the landowners, farmers, and business owners are entitled to compensation.
Obviously, mother nature has something to say regarding when a river floods and outside experts found the Corps managed the 2011 flood as well as possible given the conditions. Furthermore, one must have some expectation of flooding when owning and maintaining river-front property. However, property owners in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri are still dealing with the effects of nutrient depleted soil caused by the 2011 flooding and have been hit with floods in five of the past seven years; something they say never occurred prior to the shift in priority to environmental managment.
The Ideker Farms case will be an interesting test case in the ongoing struggle between protecting the public from the environment and protecting the environment from the public.