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A National Dialogue for the Future of America's Waterway


River Currents Newsletter - November 2015

How do we get Mississippi River Grade Up?

The America’s Watershed Initiative Mississippi River Health Report Card was disappointing but not unexpected. Like any student who hasn’t been doing their homework, there was a sense of doom at grade time. The Report Card confirmed what we sensed; research and stakeholder input from the basins gave the Mississippi River ‘s overall health a D+ and its infrastructure maintenance an F.

But what now? AWI stressed it will take collaboration throughout the watershed to make improvements. And, it will take a unified vision for the future of America’s great river. Could a National Dialogue - relying on proven collaborative processes and internet-based, simultaneous deliberation – secure the consensus more broadly and quickly? We know key stakeholders are poised to move parts of the report forward. But they will need public awareness and support.

Now is the time to cultivate that awareness and grow that support. A National Dialogue, conducted in representative Basin locations and on-line, can spur that consensus and public awareness. Let’s take advantage of the tools of deliberation and decision-making to boost that Mississippi River grade. As every first-grader knows who’s had a bad grade, the next report card better read “shows improvement” or there will be worse consequences.

We’re looking for More People to Unify the Mississippi River

We want to see more people up and down the river come together to build unified approaches to the Mississippi River. So we’re taking our message to Twitter to encourage others to call for unified approaches, too.

If you agree, join us and “sign up for a sign of your own. Plant it on your part of the river. Take a photo, selfie, video and join us in calling to Unify Mississippi River. Post it with #unifymissriv.

Watch our video!

Unified Research Completes Picture of Mississippi River Economic Impact

“The economic prosperity and quality of life within the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) region depend upon the river’s continuing viability as a rich and diverse ecosystem, a commercial transportation system, a source of water supply, and a recreational resource.” With this statement, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association revealed the findings of a year-long study – matched to one conducted earlier in the Lower Mississippi River – to establish a benchmark of the River’s economic importance.

Findings included:
• UMR corridor generates $253 billion annually
• UMR corridor supports 755,000 jobs
• Manufacturing, tourism and agriculture account for over 93 percent of revenue and 92 percent of total employment
• Tourism and outdoor recreation = approximately 300,000 jobs

More information can be found at www.umrba.org.

China Uses Public Engagement to Determine River Cleanliness

An interesting take on public engagement and rivers appeared in China Daily in September. The Chinese Ministry for Housing and Urban-Rural Development will tap citizens’ opinions to determine the cleanliness of China’s rivers. Seeking to rid rivers of floating garbage and illegal pollutants by 2017 and reduce the percentage of polluted Chinese rivers to 10 percent from the current 18 percent by 2020, China will poll local residents for their perceptions. Only when 90 percent of residents living near a river decide it’s clean can it be removed from the list of polluted rivers.

Interesting to see such a huge and diverse country take advantage of polling and public engagement to solve river management issues.

Talking about Rivers in China

Chinese hydrologists from the China Institute for Water Resources and Hydropower Research met with America’s Waterway founder Anne Lewis in Beijing in September. As a group, these scientists assess plans for hydropower projects particularly in urban centers. They showed their American guests their knowledge of Western culture and their appreciation for good Chinese food as well.
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