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Long-planned 'spring rise' on Missouri River to start tonight

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The long-awaited spring rise on the Missouri River will get underway at midnight tonight (Saturday).

"We've got the storage, the downstream conditions are good, the terns and plovers' nesting is not real active right now, so all the stars have aligned, so we're going to go ahead and pull the trigger," said Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Paul Johnston on Thursday.

The state of Missouri had fought a legal battle against the plan, but now says it supports it.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the Corps of Engineers two weeks ago to stop the spring rise. But at midnight, the Corps will release an additional 9,000 cubic feet of water per second. That flow level will accommodate barge traffic.

While that appeases the state, Nixon spokesman John Fougere says it's continuing its lawsuit to ensure any future releases follow the National Environmental Policy Act.

"We want to make sure that they conduct the required Environmental Impact Statement. It's important that the Corps comply with NEPA guidelines when they do that.

We don't think that that's something they did the first time around."

The higher flows will raise the river about a foot in mid-Missouri. They're meant to spur spawning of an endangered fish, the pallid sturgeon.