1944 Big, Bold River Plan
In response to severe flooding the previous year Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1944. This act contains an ambitious engineering plan to harness the Missouri River, including building four big dams on the Missouri River in South Dakota, and developing a large irrigation project in eastern South Dakota. This massive public works project combined the river development plans of two competing federal agencies, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation -led by Glenn Sloan (on the right, in the photo), and General Lewis Pick of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The plan to harness and control the river became known as the Pick-Sloan Plan.
Under the Pick-Sloan Plan, the largest of the four large dams to be built on the river in South Dakota would be named Oahe, and it would be constructed north of Pierre. The large reservoir backed up behind Oahe dam would provide water to an irrigation project named the Oahe Unit that would irrigate lands in the James River valley. Implementation of the Pick-Sloan Plan would forever change the Missouri River, and it would uniquely unite two competing federal water agencies, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in managing, developing and exploiting Missouri River flows.