Editorials

Old Man River is suffering from elder abuse

People fish near the Alton Lock and Dam. River infrastructure is not being maintained, leading a study to give maintenance efforts an F grade.
People fish near the Alton Lock and Dam. River infrastructure is not being maintained, leading a study to give maintenance efforts an F grade. dholtmann@bnd.com

Infrastructure certainly isn’t snazzy, but when something hasn’t been maintained it can certainly get your attention quickly. That is why regular oil changes, staying ahead of roof leaks and patching potholes should all be priorities.

So the the first comprehensive look at the Mississippi River basin is certainly alarming when our water-rich area is dinked for clean water availability. The alarm advances to worry when we see the river infrastructure, the locks and dams, receive a D grade. Worry advances to “holy cow!” when we see the maintenance of the river infrastructure received an F.

If you don’t take care of it, it will break. If it breaks, that is much more inconvenient and costly than taking care of it in the first place.

We’re not talking about a car or house here, but rather the lifeblood of our area’s economy. From $54 billion annually in agriculture products — 92 percent of our nation’s ag exports — to raw goods for manufacturing to us having gas to get to work every day, our region’s economy is firmly bound to a river network that is fourth-largest in the world.

The maintenance issue is about money. Maintenance work is being deferred because the feds are not financing it.

Looking for an excuse to call or write your congressman? Maybe suggest they shift the $92.4 million the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent on office decorations, including the $813 pencil drawer, to river infrastructure.

  Comments