River conference provides overview of Mississippi | Crime & Courts

MOLINE — Education about the Mississippi River and its ways was a big part of the final conversation as this year’s Upper Mississippi River Conference wrapped up Thursday.

The conference, in its second year, is designed to bring together nonprofits, utilities, scientists, government officials and other stakeholders to find ways to improve the Mississippi River. Areas of focus include infrastructure, tourism and ecological health. River Action, Western Illinois University, Exelon and Stanley Consultants were the conference sponsors this year. The event was Wednesday and Thursday at the TaxSlayer Center, Moline.

“We need to let people know about the floodplain,” Kathy Wine, executive director of River Action, said during the final hour of the event, which included a broad overview discussion of the conference’s topics.

Providing river education is important for elected officials dealing with a flood mitigation project, Anthony Heddlesten, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said. 

“You need to get everybody on the same page,” he said. 

For members of the public, knowing where and how a river floods is important for protecting themselves and their property, even if there are levees and other flood defenses.

It takes time to get flood insurance, he said as an example. Leaving such protections until an imminent flooding threat could mean not getting the coverage in time.

Topics presented at the conference included climate change, flood plain restoration, nutrient pollution, green infrastructure and funding. 

On Wednesday, Ross D. Powell, a professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb,  discussed climate change melting polar ice and the risk to coastal populations it presents through rising sea levels. 

William Veatch, also with the Corps of Engineers, talked about what effect increases in sea levels are…

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