JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has proposed a $10.4 million plan to introduce a new office that will help prevent and respond to flooding and droughts in Missouri.
Parson’s proposal is in response to the 2019 flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri River basins that caused over $20 billion in flood damage. The new Missouri Hydrology Information Center would be part of the Department of Natural Resources.
“The magnitude of this event and the subsequent understanding that we have to approach these events differently, in part by moving from a reactive to a proactive approach, has demonstrated the need for a suite of innovative approaches to ensure better flood protection and future flood resiliency in Missouri,” DNR spokeswoman Connie Patterson said.
If the office gets funding, it would capture real-time data around the state that could predict flooding and assist in creating flooding risk maps for communities around the state.
Parson has also proposed the use of $27 million of federal pandemic relief funds for a project to secure land in the Columbia Bottoms. This would include moving roads affected by the 2019 floods as well as increasing access to the river in the region.
The office would also deal with creating risk data for droughts in Missouri, including mapping underground aquifers and measuring moisture levels in the soil.
The proposal hopes to gain momentum in the legislature as Chairman of the Senate budget committee Sen. Dan Hegeman said that he was encouraged by Parson’s attention to water-related issues and is considering the proposal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The office’s ultimate goal would be to provide Missourians with easily accessible data on the risks of flooding, drought and other water-related data.