Thank you Secretary Vilsack for $320 million to improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin. As an Iowan, you obviously get that the whole Mississippi River needs to be addressed instead of one town, state or region at a time. $320 million is a nice way to jump start what is recognizably a major effort.
“Industrial, municipal, residential and agricultural sources have all contributed pollutants to the waters of the Mississipipi River Basin, and the MRBI (Mississippi River Basin Initiative) will provide resources that will help us come together to to address the issue,” you said in your remarks.
By the way, Secretary Vilsack’s announcement can be viewed on line at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rwi5rJ3eNE.
This is indeed a monumental initiative to fit a monumental river. After all the Mississippi River is the second longest river system in the U.S. and it’s the nation’s chief navigable water route. In addition to carrying 60 percent of the country’s agricultural, industrial and raw materials, it’s home to 25 percent of our fish species and the major flyway for 60 percent of our migratory birds. We often think of it in historic terms as well. The place where Lewis and Clark launched their vast exploration of the West, where native tribes founded the first cities of North America, and where the timber and other natural resources began their long journey to assist in building the cities of America.
So a monumental effort is in order to restore the health of our monumental River: America’s Waterway – The Mississippi River. While the Secretary said this effort would take four years, it’s probably more accurate to portray this as the beginning of an effort that will need to be sustained for perpetuity. Just as human wellness is a life long effort, Mississippi wellness will be with us for as long as the River flows. Thanks for getting us started, Mr. Secretary.