Lock and Dam Upgrades Receive $22.5 Million
The locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers are one step closer to the renovation and rebuilding that they desperately need after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on July 29 that would allocate millions to these upgrades.
The Upper Mississippi River System is vital to Illinois corn farmers, offering a competitive shipping advantage that is both efficient and clean, and making export the top market for Illinois corn.
Specifically, the House bill is dubbed the FY22 Energy and Water Development appropriations and spells out overall funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Mission to the tune of $8.66 billion. This is an increase of $863 million.
Within the bill, $22.5 million is directed for a new construction start for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP). When NESP is fully funded, it will build five 1200 foot locks on the Mississippi River and two 1200 locks on the Illinois River in addition to improving conditions for fish and wildlife.
More than 60% of the nation’s corn and soybeans are transported on the Mississippi River. But an aging system – many of the locks were constructed between 1907 and 1936 – has led to delays and closures along the river. Farmers often feel the economic impact from these problems, and this project will help ensure the river system’s long-term viability.
The Senate has yet to take up appropriations bills for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins in October of this year. NCGA will advocate that funding for the NESP program also be prioritized in the Senate’s version of the bill.