Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan

BACKGROUND: The Flood of 1993 resulted in catastrophic damages throughout the Upper Mississippi River basin. Forty-seven deaths were attributed to the flood, and flood damages exceeded $15 billion. Approximately 74,000 people were evacuated and flooding damaged over 70,000 homes. In-place flood damage reduction facilities (e.g. levees) built by the Corps of Engineers prevented an estimated $19 billion in potential additional damages. The Upper Mississippi River watershed has continued to experience more frequent flooding with higher stages, particularly in the last ten years with major floods occurring in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. In Quincy, Illinois, alone, four of the top five record crests have happened in the last 20 years. The frequent floods experienced on the Upper Mississippi River System require extraordinary measures and exorbitant federal, state and local resources to ensure the safety and security of lives and businesses. While flooding cannot be prevented, a regional flood risk management strategy can reduce the damages.  

AUTHORIZATION: In response to the Flood of 1993, the Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan (UMRCP) was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1999, Section 459 to collaboratively evaluate a broad range of flood risk management alternatives. The legislation directed the development of a plan to manage flood risks and requested recommendations on management plans and actions to be carried out by the responsible Federal and non- Federal entities. The UMRCP also requested recommendations to construction of a systemic flood control project for the Upper Mississippi River, including recommendations for Federal action where appropriate and recommendations for follow-on studies for problem areas for which data or current technology did not allow immediate solutions.

2008 REPORT TO CONGRESS ON SYSTEM OF FEDERAL IMPROVEMENTS: In 2008, the UMRCP regional team, a joint effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul, Rock Island, and St. Louis Districts, determined that a system of Federal levee raises would not be economically justifiable, but it did recommend Federal, state, and local actions that would greatly improve the preparedness, performance, and resiliency of flood risk management structures and communities. The strategy was developed in coordination with the States of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin; the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association; and non-governmental organizations such as the Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers Association, and the Mississippi River Basin Alliance. The work included documenting existing conditions; formulating and evaluating of alternatives for flood risk management; and initiating public involvement efforts. Existing data and information was used.

CURRENT STATUS: Since the 2008 report, the UMRCP regional team has sought to continue working on this forward-looking, watershed authority in order to develop a collaborative, integrated regional strategy that includes a risk decision-making framework that will be adaptively managed to adjust to changing events and uncertainties. The UMRCP team’s next step is to develop a geo-referenced hydraulic model for the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers when funding is available. The Upper Mississippi River System lacks a unified hydraulic model - each agency currently uses its own model. The UMRCP model will be collaboratively developed by the Corps of Engineers and states and will become the ‘backbone’ for building a regional risk management strategy. The UMRCP-developed model will replace the multiple models currently in use, lowering costs for all agencies, improving floodplain management, and increasing consistency in regulatory actions. The model will support flood fighting activities by allowing real-time river forecasting and inundation mapping.