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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER BASIN COMMISSION

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UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER BASIN COMMISSION. In 1981 the Upper Mississippi River Basin Commission was ended by Presidential Executive Order and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA) was established as its successor. The Governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin signed a joint resolution calling for “the continuation of an interstate organization to maintain communication and cooperation among the states on matters related to water planning and management.” (1)

The five states of the UMRBA are represented by gubernatorial appointees usually from a state agency with substantial responsibilities for water resource management. This person is responsible for coordinating with other state agencies and providing for their direct involvement when necessary. The Governor may appoint alternate representatives from a variety of state agencies to facilitate internal state coordination and assure that a broad range of state authorities and perspectives are considered in the deliberations of the Association. (2)

Six federal agencies also participate as advisory members. These include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Department of Homeland Security (Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency), Department of the Interior (Fish and Wildlife Service and Geological Survey), Department of Transportation (Maritime Administration), and Environmental Protection Agency. (3)

Although the federal members are non-voting, their participation enables the UMRBA to serve as a regional forum for the states and their federal agency counterparts to discuss major policy and management issues. (4)

The purpose of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association is to facilitate dialogue and cooperative action regarding water and related land resource issues. More specifically, UMRBA aims to: (5)

             ·Serve as a regional interstate forum for the discussion, 
              study, and evaluation of river-related issues of common 
              concern to the states of the Upper Mississippi River Basin.
             ·Facilitate and foster cooperative planning and coordinated 
              management of the region’s water and related land resources.
             ·Create opportunities and means for the states and federal 
              agencies responsible for management of water resources in 
              the Upper Mississippi River Basin to exchange information.
             ·Develop regional positions on river resource issues and serve 
              as an advocate of the basin states’ collective interests before 
              Congress and the federal agencies.

The Association has addressed a wide range of issues including: nonpoint pollution, water quality planning and management, interbasin diversions, cost-sharing strategies, water project financing, sediment and erosion, hazardous spills, toxic pollution, habitat restoration, navigation capacity, channel maintenance, flood response and recovery, floodplain management, wetland protection, hydropower development and licensing, and drought planning. (6)

On February 26, 2019 officials of the Corps of Engineers meeting with members of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association unveiled a potential $3.6 billion renovation of the lock navigation system on the Upper Mississippi River. Being proposed would be the construction of five new 1,200-foot locks on the Mississippi--all located south of Dubuque and two on the Illinois River. The project would also include mooring systems and switchboats at lower locks. (7)

The goal would be to correct costly delays for barges. When constructed, locks like the one in Dubuque met the tow size of that day--60 feet. The increased amount of freight being towed has meant twice as long for tows to maneuver through a lock. (8)

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Source:

1. Upper Mississippi River Basin Association. Online: http://umrba.org/aboutumrba.htm

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Fisher, Benjamin, "Army Corps Studying Huge Revamp of Locks," Telegraph Herald, February 27, 2019, p. 3A

8. Ibid.