The Ensley Engineer Yard in Memphis, Tenn., has recently finished final preparations to make the M/V Mississippi, the largest towboat in the U.S., ready for on a new season of revetment support and inspection trips. The 241 foot long vessel is the flagship of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and, while it spends 90% of its time as a working towboat for the Corps, it also serves as an inspection and workboat for the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) during its two inspection trips each year (high-water normally in April, and the low-water, normally in August).
This year, though, rising cases of COVID have caused the MRC to cancel the Upper Mississippi River portion of its annual low water inspection trip on board the M/V Mississippi, which had been scheduled for August 15–20, 2021.
The MRC still intends to conduct the Lower Mississippi River portion of the low water inspection trip and public hearings scheduled for August 22–27, 2021. Four public meetings have been scheduled aboard the M/V Mississippi in select towns along the river. Commission members will meet with local partners, stakeholders, and residents and hear their concerns, ideas, and issues. The meeting dates, times, and locations are as follows:
- August 23 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Caruthersville, Mo. (City Front)
- August 24 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Memphis, Tenn. (Beale Street Landing)
- August 25 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Greenville, Miss. (City Front)
- August 27 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Morgan City, La. (Port Commission Dock)
Interested parties are invited to present their views on matters affecting the water resources infrastructure needs in the valley, including flood control, the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, and other water resources challenges.
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the MRC will limit the audience in the hearing room to 50 people during the public hearings and masks must be worn at all times while on board the M/V Mississippi.
The MRC encourages members of the public who wish to address the MRC in person to pre-register at https://mvd.usace.afpims.mil/About/Mississippi-River-Commission-MRC/ and those who do not wish to attend in person to please consider sending testimony for the public record via email to [email protected] The Commission will accept testimonies for the record until 5:00 p.m. (CDT) on August 28, 2020.
The Mississippi River Commission, established in 1879, is composed of seven members, each nominated by the President of the United States and vetted by the Senate. Three of the organization’s members are officers of the Corps of Engineers; one member is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and three members are civilians, two of whom are civil engineers.
The public hearing process is unique to the Commission and the Corps. The purpose of the public meetings is to maintain a dialogue between watershed interests, the public, and USACE. Presentations by the public are made orally, and a copy of the remarks is presented to the Commission for official record and written response.