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North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven (right) and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt lead states that have long battled over water.
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Date published: 12/7/2012
At the Mississippi River port near Cape Girardeau, Mo., about a million tons of cargo are loaded or unloaded annually, providing about 200 jobs, Overbey said.
The water is also vital in parts of the Dakotas, where the dammed-up Missouri River has spawned a tourism industry centered on boating and fishing.
Todd Martell serves as a guide for walleye fishing in the summer and also runs an upholstery business in Pierre, S.D., that makes custom boat covers and interior furnishings. Lower water levels don't necessarily hurt the fishing but can leave certain boat ramps high and dry, he said.
Over the past three decades, more than a dozen lawsuits have been filed challenging the management of the river, many of which set Missouri and other downstream states against the Dakotas and other upstream states.
The battles started in 1982, when Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska challenged a government contract allowing water to be drawn from the Missouri River in South Dakota to flush coal through a pipeline to power plants in the southeast.