A new coalition of local, state and national groups aims to protect the Mississippi River. The group called One Mississippi will target the entire river, from its headwaters in Minnesota to the delta at New Orleans. Susan Heathcote is the water program director of the Iowa Environmental Council, one of the 30 agencies involved in the effort.
“This is a campaign to unite people who live and recreate near or on the Mississippi River,” Heathcote says. “It’s a campaign to raise the profile of the Mississippi River and some of the problems the river’s facing, but also some of the opportunities that folks who live along the river are able to participate in.”
The One Mississippi group says the river is the source of drinking water for 18-million people and connects 31 states via its tributaries. Heathcote says the coalition allows individual agencies to have a greater impact along the whole waterway than they’d otherwise be able to achieve on their own.
“It’s really important for us to recognize that the Mississippi River is a national treasure and an international treasure,” Heathcote says. “It’s one of the largest river systems in the world and it’s our responsiblity, as citizens who live along the river and in the basin that drains to the river, to address the problems that are affecting that great river system.”
The coalition website offers Iowans and others a host of suggestions for ways they can help protect and clean up the river. For more information, visit www.1mississippi.net