Mississippi Mayors present plan to White House

Delegation included Mayor Tim Kabat

Mayors from communities all along the Mississippi River, from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, met with lawmakers and federal agency representatives in Washington, D.C. in early March. They discussed the importance of the Mississippi River to the country, and put forth a $7.9 billion plan to maintain the river and the infrastructure supporting it.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat was one of 18 Mississippi Mayors who made the trip to Washington. In all, the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) is made up of 75 mayors from cities and towns in all 10 states located along the river. Mayor Kabat says all those mayors are unified in thinking of the river as a single resource, and one that has been overlooked.

“It provides drinking water for nearly 20 million people,” he says. “Basically half of our agricultural output is linked to the river, whether that’s in the production side and growing, or moving the product down to ports and out to international markets.”

Mayor Kabat says the $7.9 billion called for by the MRCTI, essentially, doesn’t request any new funding. Most of it would be covered by funding existing federal programs at near-current levels. According to a press release, the MRCTI platform also calls for investments to restore the river’s floodplains and ecosystems and modernize its lock-system.