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Summit Convenes Mississippi River Watershed Leaders, 'Report Card' Unveiled


Dec. 12, 2014 - Dr. Rainy Shorey, a founding steering committee member of America’s Watershed Initiative (AWI) and a manager at Caterpillar Inc., was among more than 130 participants representing over 80 organizations at the AWI Summit this fall in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Summit convened key public, private and non-profit sectors to improve governance of the Mississippi Watershed, recalled Dr. Shorey. She found it promising to see the diverse interest from stakeholders across navigation, flood control, agriculture, conservation, government and other areas—with everyone engaged in thinking about the full watershed system and how we can mutually benefit from more sustainable practices.

Dr. Shorey accepted an honor at the event on behalf of Caterpillar Foundation for their long-term support of The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater work in Illinois, across the United States and globally.

The event also featured unveiling of a ‘report card’ on the health of the Mississippi River Basin, with the intent to solicit feedback and future participation from attendees.

The draft report card measures six primary goals for the overall watershed as well as each major river basin:  

“We received some very valuable input that will improve the final version we release next year,” said Harald “Jordy” Jordahl, who works for The Nature Conservancy and serves as the AWI director. “In addition to workshops that focused on the report card, we also had some really productive sessions on water quality and water quantity challenges in the watershed. These sessions included varying perspectives and interests and were followed by facilitated table discussions.”  

Jordahl added that takeaways from the summit included recommendations that AWI should: continue to improve and complete the report card; better integrate basins and develop and strengthen the AWI coalition; engage the governors from the 31 watershed states; engage private sector leadership; and strengthen communication efforts.   

Michael A. Reuter, director of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Water program, said much of AWI’s success to date is due to broad interest and participation from different stakeholders. “The steering committee for America’s Watershed is a good reflection of the diversity of stakeholders that are drawn to and contribute to AWI,” Reuter said. “This is also a very active steering committee that’s been extremely helpful in getting AWI on the right path.”

America’s Watershed Initiative (AWI) is a collaboration that seeks solutions for meeting the multiple demands placed on the vast and complex watershed system by integrating issues, partners and ideas at the watershed scale. The summit in Louisville built on successes from similar events organized by America’s Watershed Initiative in 2010 and 2012.