Report Calls For Congressional Reform Of River Management Practices

Aug 13, 2013

The Melvin Price Locks and Dam, also known as Lock and Dam No. 26, on the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois, north of St. Louis, Missouri.
The Melvin Price Locks and Dam, also known as Lock and Dam No. 26, on the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois, north of St. Louis, Missouri.
Credit (via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A new report by a coalition of conservation and public interest groups representing the Upper Mississippi River basin is calling on Congress to reform the way it manages the river.

 According to the report, transportation infrastructure on the Mississippi River is the most heavily subsidized private transportation industry in the nation. 

Josh Sewell of Taxpayers for Common Sense does not believe this is fair. "We absolutely must not abandon Reagan established cost sharing rules that ensure the users have skin in the game. At a time when federal taxpayers are stretched to the limit, increasing an already excessive industry subsidy is something taxpayers cannot afford. It's not in the interest of the basin and it's not in the interest of the country," Sewell says. 

Financial recommendations feature prominently in the report but the primary focus is ecological restoration of the river and associated ecosystems. 

Suggestions made by the report include implementation of non-structural measures to improve river navigation, restoring wetlands to reduce flood risk, improving the cost-benefit analysis and better quantifying the ecological services a restored river would provide.  

The release of the report, titled: "Restoring America's River" coincides with debate in Congress over the 2013 Water Resources Development Act. 

The legislation was approved by the Senate in May. House leaders have vowed to take up the measure after the August recess.  

Follow Sarah Skiöld-Hanlin on Twitter@Skihan