Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) Mayors along with officials from the U.S. Geological Survey, executives from American Queen Steamboat Company, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Maritime Administration launched the first private-carry nutrient sensor for the Mississippi River today to help secure and protect the Mississippi River’s freshwater economy, according to a press release.
In 2018, the mayors signed an agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Department of Transportation to deploy nutrient sensors on private vessels transecting the Mississippi River between New Orleans and St. Paul moving closer than ever before to a real-time nutrient monitoring net.
“We as mayors along the Mississippi River, see nutrient loading as the greatest threat to our water security. But, in order to manage this threat, we must be able to measure it. We have to be able tell if the hundreds of millions of tax dollars going into conservation work along the River or Corps ecosystem restoration work is having an impact and if not where by how much,” asserted Frank Klipsch, Mayor of Davenport, Iowa and Co-Chair of MRCTI.
“It’s hard to overestimate how critical fresh water is to the Memphis economy,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “Each year the river draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to our city contributing millions to our local economy. Because of this, we created the Fresh Water Institute to ensure that our drinking water is safe and that our aquifer is viable for years to come.”
Thus, American Queen Steamboat Company will be the first private carrier of the USGS sensors which will allow for data collection as the company’s vessel, the American Queen, travels up and down the River on its various itineraries. An informational kiosk has also been installed on the riverboat so that guests onboard can learn more about the project and how the data will contribute to a better understanding of water quality on the Mississippi River.
“As the long-standing leader in Mississippi River cruising, we are dedicated to the sustainable health of not just the river, but the communities that rely on it,” said John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “Along with our partners, we are thrilled to introduce the USGS Mobile Super Gage on our flagship vessel and look forward to keeping the waters in which we travel clean for many future generations to come.”
The USGS will own, operate, and maintain the nutrient sensors being deployed on private vessels in this partnership.
“The USGS is dedicated to providing sound science that informs policy-making at all levels of government – from local communities to national priorities. Today’s launch exemplifies our commitment to working with partners from both the public and private sectors to accomplish projects that impact American communities in a meaningful way,” emphasized Dr. Jim Reilly, Director of the USGS.