The United States Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) and the complementary Mississippi River Commission (MRC) are responsible for maintaining the Mississippi River as a navigable waterway while preventing flooding. This includes the operation of harbor and lock and dam facilities up and down the river. Additionally, the MVD provides support for military, natural disaster, and national emergency operations.
The Mississippi Valley Division is made up of six districts, based in:
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Rock Island, Illinois
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Vicksburg, Mississippi
- New Orleans, Louisiana
The Division Commander is directly responsible to the Chief of Engineers. Within the authorities delegated, MVD Commander directs and supervises the individual District Commanders. MVD duties include:
- Preparing engineering studies and design.
- Constructing, operating, and maintaining flood control and river and harbor facilities and installations.
- Administering the laws on civil works activities.
- Acquiring, managing, and disposing of real estate.
- Mobilization support of military, natural disaster, and national emergency operations.
Mississippi River Commission
The Mississippi River Commission was established in 1879 to facilitate improvement of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes near its mouth to its headwaters. The stated mission of the Commission was to:
- Develop and implement plans to correct, permanently locate, and deepen the channel of the Mississippi River.
- Improve and give safety and ease to the navigation thereof.
- Prevent destructive floods.
- Promote and facilitate commerce, trade, and the postal service.
For nearly a half century, the MRC functioned as an executive body reporting directly to the U.S. Secretary of War. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 changed the mission of the MRC. The consequent Flood Control Act of 1928 created the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T). The act assigned responsibility for developing and implementing the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T) to the Mississippi River Commission. The MR&T project provides for:
- Control of floods of the Mississippi River from Head of Passes to vicinity of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
- Control of floods of the tributaries and outlets of the Mississippi River as they are affected by its backwaters.
- Improvement for navigation of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Cairo, Illinois. This includes improvements to certain harbors and improvement for navigation of Old and Atchafalaya Rivers from the Mississippi River to Morgan City, Louisiana.
- Bank stabilization of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes to Cairo, Illinois.
- Preservation, restoration, and enhancement of environmental resources, including but not limited to measures for fish and wildlife, increased water supplies, recreation, cultural resources, and other related water resources development programs.
- Semi-annual inspection trips to observe river conditions and facilitate coordination with local interests in implementation of projects. For over a century the inspections and hearings have been done aboard the M/V Mississippi and its predecessors.
The current President of the Mississippi River Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Major General John W. Peabody, replaced Major General Michael Walsh in November, 2011. General Peabody is also the commanding officer of the Mississippi Valley Division. The mission is executed through the United States Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division Districts in St. Paul, Rock Island, St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans.
The headquarters of the operation is in Historic Downtown Vicksburg in the Mississippi River Commission Building.
- List of locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi River
- List of navigation authorities in the United States
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division. "Biography of Major General John W. Peabody". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. http://www.mvd.usace.army.mil/Offices/eo/bios/Peabody_bio.pdf. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
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