Minutes of the

92nd Quarterly Meeting

of the

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

November 17, 2004

St. Louis, Missouri

 

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by UMRBA Chair Gary Clark.  The following were present:

 

UMRBA Representatives and Alternates:

 

Gary Clark

Illinois (DNR)

Rick Mollahan

Illinois (DNR)

Mike McGhee

Iowa (DNR)

Harold Hommes

Iowa (Dept of Agriculture)

John Hey

Iowa (DOT)

Mark Holsten

Minnesota (DNR)

Rebecca Wooden

Minnesota (DNR)

Dick Lambert

Minnesota (DOT)

Mike Wells

Missouri (DNR)

Charles Burney

Wisconsin (DNR)

Gretchen Benjamin

Wisconsin (DNR)

 

Federal Liaisons:

 

Linda Leake

U.S. Geological Survey

Greg Ruff

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Larry Shepard

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 7)

Charles Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bob Goodwin

Maritime Administration

 

Others in attendance:

 

Janet Sternburg

Missouri Department of Conservation

Rich Worthington

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (HQ)

Rebecca Soileau

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Mark Cornish

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Hank DeHaan

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Chuck Spitzack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Rick Astrack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Dan Erickson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

John Barko

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (R&D)

Mike Slifer

U.S. Geological Survey (Rolla, MO)

Tim Yager

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Region 3)

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (RIFO)

Al Fenedick

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 5)

John DeLashmit

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 7)

Angela Anderson

Mississippi River Basin Alliance

Dan McGuiness

Audubon

Roger Still

Audubon

Ken Buchholz

Audubon

Gretchen Bonfert

McKnight Foundation

Renay Leone

The Conservation Fund

Ted Heisel

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Stephanie Tinsley

The Nature Conservancy

Beth Martin

Washington University Environment Clinic

Paul Rohde

MARC 2000

Mark J. Carr

AEP River Operations

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

 

Meeting Minutes

Chuck Burney moved and Mike Wells seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the August 11, 2004 meeting, as drafted.  The motion was approved by consensus.

Executive Director’s Report

 

Holly Stoerker reported that UMRBA prepared comments on the provisions of S. 2773 (Water Resources Development Act of 2004) authorizing the navigation improvements and ecosystem restoration plan recommended in the Navigation Study.  Those comments were transmitted to the five State Congressional delegations on September 8, 2004.  Stoerker explained that UMRBA’s comments were based on the July 2004 Joint Governors’ Statement.  The comments express support for Section 2124 of S. 2773 and describe how each of the major themes in the Governors’ Statement is reflected in the legislative provisions.

 

Stoerker also reported that:

 

§      UMRBA staff has been invited to serve on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Lake Pepin TMDL being developed by Minnesota PCA.  This will be the first TMDL done for any portion of the Mississippi River and is one of the few interstate TMDLs in the country.  It is also a very important TMDL for the State of Minnesota because over half of the State is in the Lake Pepin drainage area.

 

§      Two new UMRBA project staff have been hired for the spills planning and mapping work done under cooperative agreement with U.S. EPA Region 5.  They include Lisa Reisner and Bryan Lloyd.

 

§      With completion of the Upper Mississippi River floodway computations, UMRBA staff will no longer be convening the ad-hoc group of State floodplain managers, FEMA, and Corps representatives, on a regular basis.  However, the group will meet on an as-needed basis.

 

§      UMRBA’s biennial audit was conducted in August by an independent accounting firm.  Copies of the final report were distributed to UMRBA representatives and alternates on September 24, 2004.

 

§      Mark Holsten has agreed to serve as the second signatory for UMRBA bank accounts.  The necessary documentation was provided to Wells Fargo Bank on September 9.

 

§      NRCS involvement in Upper Mississippi River basin will likely be changing as a result of reorganization of NRCS.  Gary Wooten is now in the Fort Worth, Texas NRCS office and on special detail to Washington, D.C.  Mike Sullivan, of the North Little Rock, Arkansas office has been assigned as NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin liaison and will be exploring how NRCS can best be involved in river-related groups.

 

Stoerker distributed copies of a summary that UMRBA staff prepared of the Congressional election results in the five basin States.  She noted that Missouri was the only basin State in which there was a gubernatorial race in 2004.  Republican Matt Blunt won that race.  There were U.S. Senate races in 4 of the 5 States.  Barack O’Bama (D-IL) is the only new basin Senator.  The only change in U.S. House districts along the river was in Missouri’s 3rd district, where Russ Carnahan (D-MO) was elected to the seat previously held by Richard Gephardt (D-MO).

 

Audubon Ark and Center at Columbia Bottoms

 

Dan McGuiness explained that Audubon’s Mississippi River Campaign is based on the premise that protecting birds requires protecting habitat.  Initially, the campaign focused on public policy, but is now putting increased emphasis on education.  

 

Roger Still provided an overview of plans for a nature center and passenger boat at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.  Audubon is working on this project with Trail Net and a variety of other public and private organizations.  The McKnight Foundation funded a study, evaluating the feasibility of using a 75-80 passenger boat to access the confluence lands owned by Missouri DNR and Missouri DOC.  Currently, the Jones Confluence Park and Columbia Bottoms area are difficult to get to by land.  Total costs are estimated to be approximately $6.5 million, of which $2.2 million has already been pledged.  The project would include a small nature center, docking facilities, and a shallow draft educational passenger boat.  Operating costs for the boat are anticipated to include a combination of earned revenue and funding from the endowment.

 

Mississippi River Revolving Fund

 

Renay Leone explained that the Conservation Fund’s mission is conserving land and water resources by integrating economic and environmental goals.  This is in contrast to the Trust for Public Land, which focuses on urban areas and recreation, or the Nature Conservancy, which focuses on protecting biodiversity and pristine places.  The Conservation Fund will not buy land unless it has a partner that will own and operate it. 

 

Since being founded in 1985, the Conservation Fund has protected 4.1 million acres nationwide, valued at $2.5 billion, with a purchase price of $1.8 billion.  Partners include public agencies, foundations, corporations, nonprofits, and individuals. 

 

In 1994, the Conservation Fund started a Mississippi River Revolving Fund, with a $350,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation.  The fund now totals $2.1 million.  In 2004, the Conservation Fund conducted a survey of potential land conservation partners in a 10‑State region to determine their priorities and challenges.  Most priorities were related to the main stem and floodplain, tributaries, or regional projects.  All those surveyed agreed that the major challenge is funding, including capital for acquisition, as well as funding for operations, staff, and management.  Other challenges include public support, federal/political support, prioritization/stewardship, landowner attitudes, and timing for finding willing sellers.  As a result of the survey, the Conservation Fund is recommending additional capital, additional partners, and a circuit rider approach to supporting the Fund’s partners.

 

UMRBA Water Quality Task Force

 

Barb Naramore provided an overview of the recent work of the UMRBA Task Force, including proposed activities for the next two years, to be funded with grants from EPA Regions 5 and 7.

 

The focus of the Task Force, since its formation in 1999, has been ongoing coordination on water quality issues related to the Mississippi River mainstem.  Task Force members include representatives from each of the five States’ environmental quality agencies, as well as U.S. EPA Regions 5 and 7.  Outcomes thus far include a January 2004 report comparing the States’ monitoring and data, 305 (b) assessments, and 303(d) impairments on the Upper Mississippi River, under the Clean Water Act 2002 report cycle.  In addition, the Task Force developed and secured endorsement of an interstate agreement related to minimum reaches for river assessments and listings.

 

EPA Regions 5 and 7 are providing $161,000 over the next two years for the ongoing work of the Task Force.  Activities will include a comparison of the States’ 2004 assessments and listings for the river and updates to the UMRBA water quality web pages.  Naramore showed an example of how the 2004 comparison of State listings is being displayed. 

 

Naramore also described the two primary issue tracks that the Task Force will be pursuing with EPA grant funds, including fish consumption advisories and sedimentation-related impairment.  Workshops, background reports, and consultation meetings will be used for both issue tracks.  The fish consumption advisory (FCA) track will explore how FCAs are developed, how they are used in making impairment decisions, the basis for and implication of differences among the States, and options for enhancing consistency.  The sedimentation/turbidity issue track will explore current standards and assessment methodologies, the basis and implication of differences among the States, key scientific and policy issues, the UMRCC’s proposed criteria for submersed aquatic vegetation, and options for enhancing consistency. 

 

In response to a question from Mark Cornish regarding use of LTRMP data, Naramore explained that the State water quality agencies use LTRMP data to varying degrees.  For this project, LTRMP data will likely be most relevant in the context of the sedimentation impairment discussions.

 

Also in response to questions, Naramore confirmed that the States’ ability to travel to meetings will be enhanced by the allocation of grant funds for that purpose.  In addition, she explained that all Task Force meetings are open to the public and posted on the UMRBA website.

 

Naramore explained that UMRBA will be hiring a consultant to assist in developing the background papers and other written materials for the two primary issue tracks, as well as planning the workshops.  A Request for Proposals was distributed in early October to 14 firms.  Three viable proposals were received and reviewed.  In consultation with the Task Force Chairman from Minnesota PCA, UMRBA staff is recommending Wenck Associates be retained.

 

Gary Clark explained that the UMRBA bylaws require UMRBA representatives to approve any contracts over $5000.  Mark Holsten moved and Chuck Burney seconded a motion authorizing staff to execute a contract with Wenck Associates for an amount not-to-exceed $48,000.  The motion carried by consensus.

 

Ecosystem Restoration Cost Sharing and Chief’s Report

 

Holly Stoerker distributed copies of draft comments that UMRBA staff had prepared on the final feasibility study report for the Navigation Study (dated September 24, 2004) and the draft Chief’s Report, which was distributed in conjunction with the final report.  She explained that the comments address several points of confusion and omission related to cost sharing, as well as cost sharing specifications that the States had not seen prior to distribution of the draft Chief’s Report.  Stoerker explained that UMRBA staff comments were provided, in advance of this meeting, to the Corps to facilitate discussion.

 

Stoerker described four apparent areas of inconsistency regarding cost sharing:

 

§      Characterization of the cost sharing recommendations in the recommended plan versus the draft Chief’s Report

§      Application of the cost sharing criteria by specific projects versus generalized project types

§      Total cost estimates for the 15-year plan

§      Other cost sharing provisions that are not included in the draft Chief’s Report, including:

-      NGOs as non-Federal sponsors

-      Reimbursement of non-Federal sponsor for land acquisition costs in excess of the non-Federal sponsor’s 35 percent share

-      Timing of land acquisition

 

Gary Clark commented that the Chief’s Report is a very important document, in so far as it typically becomes the “controlling document,” by virtue of the fact that it is referenced in the authorizing legislation.  The States are thus concerned that the Chief’s Report be unambiguous and consistent with the feasibility study.

 

Rich Worthington explained that the ecosystem restoration program recommended in the Navigation Study feasibility report includes 3 categories of projects:  individually authorized projects, a programmatic authority, and land acquisition floodplain restoration projects.  According to Worthington, the Corps would prefer to continue this categorization into the authorization language and specify that 2 of the 3 categories (individually authorized projects and programmatic authority) be 100 percent federally funded.

 

Worthington explained that the individual project authorizations would include projects exceeding $25 million and involving modification of navigation structures or operations.  In the 15-year initial authorization, such projects include:

 

§      construction of fish passage at L&D 4, 8, 22, 26, and engineering and design of fish passage at L&D 29

§      dam point control at L&D 25 and 16

 

Worthington explained that the programmatic authority would include a range of projects less than $25 million, plus adaptive management.  The total cost would be $935 million over 15 years, at primarily 100 percent federal cost.  The non-Federal sponsor would be responsible for OMRR&R for all programmatic authority projects.  Worthington distributed a table summarizing the estimated costs of a variety of types of projects in the 15-year implementation plan.  The table shows 6 components of the plan that will be either fully or partially cost shared, including floodplain restoration, topographic diversity, backwater water level management, island protection, shoreline protection, and adaptive management.  Worthington noted that these are estimates, because the suite of specific projects has not yet been determined.

 

Mark Holsten provided a list of examples for which he would like clarification regarding whether they would be cost shared.  In particular, he asked if restoration of a backwater that is connected to Pool 3; is below the ordinary high water mark; and involves State, federal, and tribal lands would be cost shared.  Worthington said it would be 100 percent federally funded, based on the assumption that projects within the navigational servitude will be 100 percent federal.  Worthington explained that navigational servitude is the overarching right of the federal government to develop navigable waters of the U.S.  It trumps all other ownership rights. 

 

With regard to the third category of land acquisition and restoration, Worthington explained that these projects would be cost shared 65 percent federal, 35 percent non-Federal.  Non‑Federal sponsors will be credited for in-kind services up to their 35 percent share.  However, they will not be reimbursed for in-kind services that exceed the 35 percent share. 

 

Holly Stoerker asked if States could use funds from other federal programs, such as USDA conservation programs, to acquire the land needed for an ecosystem restoration project.  Worthington said it would depend on the requirements and limitations of the other federal program with regard to using its funds to match other federal funding.  He indicated that it has been his experience that these requirements are typically not set in general policy, but applied on a project-specific basis.

 

Worthington also briefly explained each of the cost sharing requirements specified in the draft Chief’s Report, many of which were not identified in the feasibility study report:

§      Non-Federal sponsor must provide dredged material disposal areas — This will not likely be needed or applicable to floodplain restoration projects.

§      Right to enter — This is a routine requirement.

§      PCA required prior to construction — This is routine.

§      Hold and save clause — Although sometimes controversial, this provision is a matter of law.

§      Maintain records — This is a very important and basic provision.

§      CERCLA investigation and clean-up are a non-Federal responsibility — This will not likely be an issue for ecosystem restoration projects.

§      Relocation assistance — This will not likely be applicable.  However, the Corps requires non‑Federal sponsors to provide the same assistance that the Corps would be required to provide in the event of a relocation.

§      Comply with all applicable federal and State laws — This is primarily a labor rate issue.

§      Cost share archeological data recovery over 1 percent — Costs will be 100 percent federal, if less that 1 percent.

 

Finally, Worthington summarized his response to the cost sharing questions and issues posed in UMRBA’s draft comments:

 

§      NGOs as non-Federal sponsors — This will be added back into the Chief’s Report.  It was inadvertently omitted.

§      Land acquisition costs in excess of 35 percent — Reimbursing the non-Federal sponsor for land acquisition costs in excess of the sponsor’s 35 percent share is, in fact, Corps policy.  However, in some areas of the country where land costs are extremely high, non-Federal sponsors are voluntarily limiting their reimbursement to 35 percent, in order to keep the total project cost down.  There is some concern within the Corps that specific language regarding reimbursement may preclude such voluntary exceptions.  However, Worthington offered to advocate adding the language regarding reimbursement for acquisition costs greater than 35 percent into the Chief’s Report on the Navigation Study.

§      Timing of land acquisition — The Chief’s Report will not include language, similar to the feasibility study report, indicating that the value of the lands “regardless of the date of acquisition” shall be credited to the non-Federal sponsor.  Such an approach would be inconsistent with existing Corps policy.  In particular, there are two relevant policies:

-      If lands were acquired more than 5 years before the PCA, no credit is given for incidental costs associated with the acquisition.  However, if lands were acquired within 5 years of the PCA, those incidental costs can be reimbursed.

-      The value of lands acquired after a PCA is signed is defined as the value as of the date of acquisition.  However, if lands are acquired before the PCA is signed, their value is defined to be the value as of the date the Corps was granted entry.

 

Mark Holsten asked about the plans for fish passage at L&D 8, noting that the States have also proposed a fish barrier for that location.  Rich Worthington noted that fish barriers were not part of the Navigation Study.  Fish passage projects would be 100 percent federally funded.  However, fish barriers would require cost sharing.  Mark Cornish added that the timing of these features is important.  The fish passage proposal for L&D 8 is approximately 10 years in the future, while the barrier is proposed for FY 06.  If the science of adaptive management shows that fish passage at L&D 8 would not be prudent, it will not be pursued. 

 

Gary Clark asked if the UMRBA representatives were satisfied with the answers to their draft comments and whether the comments should be finalized and officially transmitted.  It was agreed that the comments would not be transmitted at this time.  However, UMRBA staff should follow-up with Rich Worthington to see if submitting the comments to Corps Headquarters would be helpful as the process evolves.

 

Comprehensive Plan for Flood Damage Reduction

 

Rich Astrack presented an overview of the status of the Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan (UMRCP), authorized in the 1999 Water Resources Development Act.  The FY 05 budget request for UMRCP was $944,000.  Completion is expected in FY 06, depending on funding.

 

Astrack explained that a variety of alternative plans are being developed and considered, including structural, nonstructural, floodplain management, and ecosystem restoration opportunity plans.  The structural plans include different combinations of protection levels for urban and agricultural areas, as well as critical infrastructure.  The ecosystem restoration opportunities will likely be applied to all plans, rather than embodied in a separate plan.

 

Astrack presented a series of maps illustrating the systemic plan for 500-year protection, including those levees that are already at the 500-year level, as well as those that would be raised under that plan, and those that could not be raised, given their impact on water levels. 

 

Astrack also explained the development and evaluation of the Emergency Action Plans.  These plans address floodfighting and emergency operations, but are not permanent flood damage reduction plans.  Hydraulic and economic analysis is being conducted on five Emergency Action options, reflecting different combinations of levee raises in urban and agricultural areas, as well as those that protect critical infrastructure.  Astrack provided an example of the preliminary evaluation, which shows, for example, that raising the Bois Brule levee by 2 feet in a 500-year flood event would raise water levels by 1.8 feet.

 

Astrack said the UMRCP covers the same geographic area as the Navigation Study and is using the ecosystem restoration opportunities from that study as input.  He also commented that it appears unlikely that the UMRCP will yield a feasible NED project.  However, he observed that the planning effort still produced useful results.  The models and analyses will be available, even if the study ends without an economically justified plan to recommend for authorization. 

 

Gretchen Bonfert asked if data showing the induced rise impacts of the Emergency Action Plan is also available for the structural alternatives.  Astrack said that similar data is available for the structural plans, but explained that the structural plans were actually formulated to limit rises to 1 foot. 

 

Water Resources Development Act of 2004

 

Rich Worthington described the Corps of Engineer’s planning and policy issues that are the focus of recent “Corps Reform” efforts.  Much of the reform impetus comes from the environmental community, which has been dissatisfied with how the Corps has handled major new project studies (such as the UMR Navigation Study and Delaware River Deepening), as well as implementation of some older projects (such as Yazoo Pumps).  Issues include independent review by experts outside of the Corps, new evaluation criteria regarding environmental restoration and multi-objective planning, the openness of the planning process, the adequacy of mitigation, how public versus private benefits are weighed, and the reformulation of projects to meet contemporary needs.

 

Other Corps constituencies, such as local communities and navigation interests, have expressed concerns about these proposed reforms.  These concerns include the effect that the reforms would have on the timeliness and cost of projects, the Corps’ diminished ability to control its own planning process, moving too aggressively to new missions in a time of budget constraints, and “mission creep” into areas such as wastewater and water supply.

 

Worthington noted that how these issues are resolved will have a profound impact on the timing and content of a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  There has not been a WRDA since 2000, largely due to controversy over Corps Reform. 

 

Holly Stoerker summarized the differences among three versions of WRDA 2004, including S. 2773 as reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, an amendment to S. 2773 offered by Senator Cochran, and H.R. 2557 passed by the House in September 2003.  In particular, Stoerker described differences among the bills’ provisions related to creation of a River Stewardship Commission, Corps planning reform, establishment of a Water Resources Planning Council, independent peer review, fish and wildlife mitigation requirements, and articulation of federal water resource management policy.

 

Interagency Coordination at the District Level

 

Presentations were given on each of the three Corps district-level interagency teams.  Holly Stoerker introduced the presentations by saying that much of the problem solving and coordination among agencies is actually accomplished at the district level.  Thus, as we begin discussions of new institutional arrangements for river management, it would be useful to better understand the work of these existing groups.

 

River Resources Forum (RRF) — Gretchen Benjamin described the history, purpose, and goals of the St. Paul District River Resources Forum.  This State and Federal interagency advisory group includes representatives of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa DNRs and DOTs; the Corps; Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS); National Park Service (NPS); and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Its origins are in the 1974 GREAT I team and the 1981 Channel Maintenance Forum.  In 1991, the Forum’s scope was broadened to include navigation, environment, and recreation issues, as well as channel maintenance.  At that point, its name changed to the River Resources Forum (RRF) and a partnering agreement was signed by the participating agencies.  The RRF has a variety of sub-groups, including the On-Site Inspection Team; technical workgroups for navigation, fish and wildlife, and recreation; and special task forces, such as the Hydraulic Evaluation Team and the Water Level Management Team. 

 

Benjamin said the RRF tries to work toward consensus and is a highly productive and effective team.  She noted that development of dredged material placement plans has streamlined work tremendously.  Now these decisions are relatively routine, freeing staff to address broader issues.  RRF tasks and accomplishments include prioritizing EMP habitat projects, siting mooring cells, conducting recreational surveys, developing beach plans, conducting small and large scale draw downs, notching wing dams, and pool planning.

 

River Resources Coordinating Team (RRCT) — Jon Duyvejonck described the history and purpose of the Rock Island District River Resources Coordinating Team (RRCT).  Similar to the RRF, the RRCT was an outgrowth of GREAT.  However, methods for disposing of dredged material were different in the Rock Island District, resulting in a very active On-Site Inspection Team.  The team is only now coming to a point where they are developing and relying more on site plans. 

 

In contrast to the RRF, there is no partnering agreement in effect for the RRCT.  The Rock Island District Chief of Operations and a rotating State representative  (currently Wisconsin DNR’s Gretchen Benjamin) co-chair the RRCT.  The Fish and Wildlife Service chairs the Fish and Wildlife Interagency Committee (FWIC).  Although FWIC advises the RRCT, it does not necessarily operate at its direction.

 

River Resources Action Team (RRAT) — Dan Erickson described the formation and activities of the St. Louis District River Resources Action Team (RRAT).  The St. Louis District, FWS, Missouri DOC, and Illinois DNR had worked together informally for many years, but the RRAT was officially chartered through an MOU in 2002.  The RRAT operates on three levels: RRAT Exec, RRAT Tech, and RRAT Tech Expanded.  Examples of RRAT work efforts include environmental pool management in Pools 24, 25, and 26; stone dike alteration plan; habitat map for the Middle Mississippi River; and side channel vision.  In addition, the group is working on a pallid sturgeon conference to be held in January 2005.

 

Gary Clark thanked all the groups for their presentations and excellent work.  He commented that there is tremendous institutional history, knowledge, and experience associated with these groups.

 

UMRBA Strategic Planning Update

 

UMRBA Chair, Gary Clark, reported that UMRBA representatives and alternates met yesterday for a strategic planning meeting.  They reflected on what they had heard at the August 2004 Institutional Arrangements Discussion Forum.  In particular, at that forum, people commented that the existing institutional arrangements on the river are generally good for cultivating communication and interagency relationships.  However, there is no integrated planning; leadership is lacking; there is no way to integrate program objectives and missions; and meetings are too focused on information exchange, with little resulting action.  With regard to UMRBA in particular, people commented that UMRBA is a good voice for the States, but it has too much emphasis on the river main stem and Corps of Engineers programs, there is little connection between UMRBA governor-appointees and the State members of UMRBA sub-groups, State representation is not at a high enough level, and Federal agencies are not voting members.

 

Clark indicated that UMRBA’s strategic planning discussions will be continued in February.  However, some of the preliminary conclusions include:

 

§      UMRBA is fundamentally a strong, relevant, and credible organization for the States. 

§      The basin States value UMRBA as an “alliance of the sovereigns,” meaning States have a distinct voice and role as stewards of the region’s water resources. 

§      UMRBA has staffing and funding limitations.

§      UMRBA will continue to support the ongoing work of its Water Quality Task Force.  That Task Force has made important contributions to interstate coordination.  However, we recognize that there are other river-related water quality activities and groups (e.g., Hypoxia Task Force and Governors’ Initiative). UMRBA’s role in those efforts will need to be explored and better defined.

§      As the Navigation Study transitions into implementation, the GLC and UMRBA meetings should be used more effectively and efficiently.  In particular, if there are a substantial number of critical issues to be discussed, then it would be appropriate to convene a meeting of the GLC, separate from the UMRBA.  If not, issues related to the Navigation Study, should be discussed as part of the UMRBA meeting.

§      In the longer term, there will be a need for a policy-level multi-party forum, as well as a high-level multi-party implementation group for implementation of the Navigation Study plan.  The EMP institutional arrangements should serve as a model.  Having UMRBA provide staff support seems to work well.  WRDA language authorizing the navigation and ecosystem plan may have an impact on how these institutional arrangements are structured.

§      The current quarterly 3-day meeting strategy seems to work well for networking and coordination.  UMRBA will try to schedule some its subgroups’ meetings in conjunction with the quarterly UMRBA meeting to enhance coordination.

 

Jon Duyvejonck asked if UMRBA plans to summarize and publish the results of its strategic planning discussions.  Gary Clark explained that the intent is not to publish a strategic plan document, but to keep the discussions ongoing and relevant.

 

Holly Stoerker thanked UMRBA’s federal advisory members for their candid and thoughtful comments at the Institutional Arrangements Forum held in conjunction with the quarterly meeting in August.  Those comments were very helpful in shaping the UMRBA State members’ strategic planning discussions.

 

Future Meeting Dates 

 

The future quarterly meeting schedule for the combined GLC, UMRBA, and EMP-CC meetings includes February 22-24, 2005 in La Crosse and May 24-26, 2005 in the Twin Cities.  It was agreed that the summer meetings will be held August 16-18, 2005 in the Quad Cities.

 

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:45 p.m.