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Bill to Help Mississippi River Adapt to Drought

US Senator Dick Durbin of  Illinois recently introduced a bill to help the nation prepare to deal with the effects of future droughts on the Mississippi river.

Under the legislation, automated river level monitors would be installed. It also gives the Army Corps of Engineers authority to operate and dredge in more areas  as well as establishing a conservation and habitat restoration project for the middle section of the river.

Karen Torrent is the legislative director for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

She said the bill is a good first step and looks at options to address low water levels.

Though she said the tough decisions will come when it’s time decide what to do about low water levels and that dredging alone can’t solve the problem.

"You know we have a similar problem in the great lakes where in some parts it's two actually feet lower and we can't dig our way out of the great lakes we'd be digging our way to China, right?" Torrent said. "So it's unsustainable to keep digging, digging digging, we're going to have to figure something out."

The Illinois Corn Growers Association  also released a statement supporting the legislation.

The bill was also introduced into the US house by Illinois Democrat Bill Enyart and Republican Rodney Davis.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.