Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation

Congress on

Charting a new course for the

Mississippi river watershed

December 3, 2019
American Geophysical Union
  2000 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC

Program    Program Committee    Registration    Location

MS RiverThe Mississippi River watershed routinely experiences severe flooding events, causing damage to infrastructure, agriculture, the economy, and the environment. Now, climate change is exacerbating this flooding, guaranteeing that the situation will only get worse. A new, radical course needs to be charted.

2019 Congress speakers and delegates will discuss impacts of the new climate normal, reimagine management for different sectors of the watershed, and examine the stubborn and long-standing impediments to sustainably managing resources within the watershed.

Program topics include:

● a historical overview of how we have transformed the Mississippi River;

● projected increased precipitation and severe storms in the watershed;

● flood control and risk reduction challenges facing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - the future use of structure;

● implications of unwise land-use policies in our floodplains;

● emerging strategies for reducing degradation of ecological resources;

● impacts of climate change on navigation and shipping on the river;

● lessons in river management from the international community; and

● overcoming longstanding impediments to effective management of the watershed.


Dan Barrie
Todd Bridges
Chad Berginnis
Craig Colten
  Louisiana State University
Dan Barrie
NOAA Climate Program Office

Todd Bridges
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Chad Berginnis
Association of State Floodplain
Kris Johnson
Giuliana Torta
Hans Pietersen
Gerry Galloway
Kris Johnson
The Nature Conservancy
Giuliana Torta
EU Delegation to the US
Hans Pietersen
Gerry Galloway
University of Maryland


8:10 am – 8:30 am
Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am – 8:35 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

8:35 am – 8:55 am
The Mississippi River Watershed – As We Found It and Today

The congress will begin with an overview of the Mississippi River watershed, past and present. Our speaker will discuss how managing resources in the Mississippi River watershed has been a complicated challenge since the 1800’s. The river has resisted being tamed and its management has been comprised of numerous piecemeal measures through the decades.

Craig Colten
Carl O. Sauer Professor, Department of Geography & Anthropology
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

8:55 am – 9:05 am
Questions and Discussion

9:05 am – 9:25 am
More Precipitation and Severe Storms

Significant climatic changes are coming to the Midwest and Mississippi River watershed. Climate change is warming our atmosphere and leading to more frequent and intense precipitation events, a trend that is projected to increase through the end of this century. Our speaker will describe what we may anticipate in terms of total precipitation, seasonal variation, and impacts on lakes, rivers and aquifers.

Dan Barrie
Program Manager, Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections Program
Climate Program Office
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Silver Spring, MD

9:25 am – 9:35 am
Questions and Discussion

9:35 am – 10:05 am
Flood Control and Risk Reduction

Flooding is a major issue in the Mississippi River watershed. To combat this flooding, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses various flood control and risk reduction measures including: levees, spillways, dams, locks and canals. The legacy of a century of building structure, including funding and maintenance issues, as well as the role of structure moving forward and how the Corps can prepare for more water in the watershed will be discussed.

Todd Bridges
Senior Research Scientist, Environmental Science
National Lead, Engineering with Nature Initiative
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Vicksburg, MS

10:05 am – 10:35 am
Questions and Discussion

10:35 am – 10:50 am

10:50 am – 11:20 am

The Mississippi River has always flooded, but flooding has become more problematic due to unwise development in the floodplain. The construction of levees along the river as well as federal flood insurance policies encourage people to live, work, and farm in risky flood-prone areas. How can we break free from this cycle of repeated, devastating flooding? Our speaker will examine potential ways to rectify our legacy of land-use choices.

Chad Berginnis
Executive Director
Association of State Floodplain Managers
Madison, WI

11:20 am – 11:50 am
Questions and Discussion

11:50 am – 12:30 pm
Lunch (provided)

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm
Floodplain Restoration to Improve Water Quality and Restore Ecological Resources in the Mississippi River Basin
The Mississippi River Basin is America’s iconic watershed and supports vast ecological resources. Yet development, loss of natural habitats and conversion of lands for agriculture have degraded these ecological resources. Excess nutrients and sediments from cities and farms and the loss of tens of millions of acres of floodplains along the Mississippi River and its tributaries diminish habitats and impact water quality both throughout the Basin and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. This presentation will examine the potential for floodplain protection and restoration to help restore the health of the Mississippi River Basin and provide multiple benefits for people and nature. Our speaker will showcase innovative science and tools that can be used to achieve this objective.

Kris Johnson
Associate Director for Science and Planning, North America Agriculture Program
The Nature Conservancy
Minneapolis, MN

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Questions and Discussion

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Lessons in River Management from the European Union

How can successful elements of international river management be applied to the Mississippi River watershed? What lessons related to governance can Europe share from its experiences with the Danube and Rhine Rivers? Are there insights for America in the Floods Directive adopted by the EU Parliament?

Giuliana Torta
Counselor for Environment, Fisheries and Ocean Policies
European Union Delegation to the U.S.
Washington, DC

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Questions and Discussion

2:30 pm – 2:50 pm

2:50 pm – 3:20 pm
Lessons in River Management from the European Union (continued)

Hans Pietersen
Senior Advisor, International Affairs
Utrecht, Netherlands

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm
Questions and Discussion

3:50 pm – 4:20 pm
Longstanding Impediments to Effective Management

The stubborn and longstanding impediments to effective river management have been the absence of a national vision of how the river should be managed and thus no agreed upon federal role to coordinate interstate actions, a lack of consensus about management among the 31 states along the river, and no effective process for securing funding for the maintenance and operation of the river and associated infrastructure. These political barriers will be examined.

Gerry Galloway
Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering
University of Maryland
College Park, MD

4:20 pm – 4:50 pm
Questions and Discussion

4:50 pm

Robert Day
Executive Director

Congress Program Committee

John E. Durrant
, RNRF Chairman; Sr. Managing Director, Engineering & Lifelong Learning, American Society of Civil Engineers
Robert Day
, RNRF Executive Director
Tom Chase
Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Director of Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers
Betsy Cody
Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; President-Elect, American Water Resources Association
Dresden Farrand
, RNRF Board Member; Executive Vice President, American Water Resources Association
Sarah Gerould
, RNRF Board Member; Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Paul Higgins,
Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Director, AMS Policy Program, American Meteorological Society
Lu Gay Lanier, RNRF Board Member; American Society of Landscape Architects Fund
Andy Miller
, RNRF Board Member; Policy Fellow, AMS Policy Program, American Meteorological Society
Raj Pandya
, RNRF Board Member; Program Director, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union
Howard Rosen
, RNRF Board Member; Public Interest Member
Barry Starke
, RNRF Board Member; Public Interest Member
Kasey White
, RNRF Board Member; Director of Geoscience Policy, Geological Society of America

RNRF Staff Liaisons:
Madeline Voitier,
Senior Program Manager
Stephen Yaeger,
Program Manager

Special Thanks:
Nicole Carter,
Natural Resources Policy Specialist, Congressional Research Service
Tom Chase, Director of Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers
Gerry Galloway, Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, University of Maryland
Dennis Lambert
, Chair, ASCE COPRI Waterways Committee
Dale Morris,
Director of Strategic Partnerships, The Water Institute of the Gulf
Claudia Nierenberg, Division Director, Climate and Societal Interactions, NOAA Climate Program Office


Registration fee options

General Registration: $100 (through November 14; $150 thereafter)
Student Registration: $50 (through November 14; $75 thereafter)

Check: Please submit a check payable to "Renewable Natural Resources Foundation" to: Renewable Natural Resources Foundation, 6010 Executive Blvd. – Suite 700, North Bethesda, MD 20852

Credit Card (Phone): Please call RNRF offices at (301) 770-9101 during business hours.

Credit Card (Online): Please submit payment via PayPal below. You do not need to have a PayPal account to use the service.

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The RNRF Congress on Charting a New Course for the Mississippi River Watershed will be held at the American Geophysical Union located at 2000 Florida Ave NW in Washington, DC. This building is the first net zero energy commercial renovation in D.C. and is an eight-minute walk from the Dupont Station on Metro's Red Line. Public parking is available directly across the street.

Introduction    Program  Program Committee  registration    Location