The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should act immediately to make flood control the top priority on the Missouri River, an attorney for hundreds of farmers, landowners and business operators said Wednesday after a federal judge ruled the agency was responsible for recurring flooding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should act immediately to make flood control the top priority on the Missouri River, an attorney for hundreds of farmers, landowners and business operators said Wednesday after a federal judge ruled the agency was responsible for recurring flooding.

Judge Nancy B. Firestone's ruling Tuesday in Washington cited river management changes initiated by the Corps of Engineers starting in 2004, including efforts to aid endangered fish and birds, that led to damages estimated to exceed $300 million in four states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. The Corps manages the Missouri River's system of dams and locks and decides when and how much water is released from reservoirs into the river.

In her 259-page ruling, Firestone wrote that flooding "was caused by and was the foreseeable result" of the Corps' management of the river. Another trial will start in October to determine how much money the lawsuit's 372 plaintiffs will receive.