American Queen Steamboat Company Announces Partnerships to Secure and Protect the Mississippi River

American Queen Steamboat Company (Logo)Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) Mayors along with officials from the U.S. Geological Survey, executives from American Queen Steamboat Company, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Maritime Administration launched the first private-carry nutrient sensor for the Mississippi River today (Sep.16) to help secure and protect the Mississippi River’s freshwater economy.

In 2018, Mayors signed a historic agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Department of Transportation to deploy nutrient sensors on private vessels transecting the Mississippi River between New Orleans and St. Paul moving closer than ever before to a real-time nutrient monitoring net for the nation’s most important waterway.

“We as mayors along the Mississippi River, see nutrient loading as the greatest threat to our water security. But, in order to manage this threat, we must be able to measure it. We have to be able tell if the hundreds of millions of tax dollars going into conservation work along the River or Corps ecosystem restoration work is having an impact and if not where by how much,” asserted Frank Klipsch, Mayor of Davenport, Iowa and Co-Chair of MRCTI.

“It’s hard to overestimate how critical fresh water is to the Memphis economy,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “Each year the river draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to our city contributing millions to our local economy. Because of this, we created the Fresh Water Institute to ensure that our drinking water is safe and that our aquifer is viable for years to come.”

West Memphis Mayor, Marco McClendon calibrated what the launch means implicating both sides of the River: “The tourism industry within the Mississippi River region of Arkansas provides over 22,000 jobs and is a $2.4 billion industry. But, no one wants to hunt, fish, paddle, or cruise in or near water full of algae due to nutrient surge. So, we need to know what is in our water where to keep it clean and that’s what the sensors we’re deploying will do.”

As the next step in its commitment to the river and communities in which it serves, AQSC will be the first private carrier of the USGS sensors which will allow for data collection as the company’s flagship vessel, the American Queen, travels up and down the River on its various itineraries. An informational kiosk has also been installed on the riverboat so that guests on board can learn more about the project and how the data will contribute to a better understanding of water quality on the Mississippi River.

“As the long-standing leader in Mississippi River cruising, we are dedicated to the sustainable health of not just the river, but the communities that rely on it,” said John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “Along with our partners, we are thrilled to introduce the USGS Mobile Super Gage on our flagship vessel and look forward to keeping the waters in which we travel clean for many future generations to come.”

The U.S. Geological Survey will own, operate, and maintain the nutrient sensors being deployed on private vessels in this partnership. “The USGS is dedicated to providing sound science that informs policy-making at all levels of government – from local communities to national priorities. Today’s launch exemplifies our commitment to working with partners from both the public and private sectors to accomplish projects that impact American communities in a meaningful way,” emphasized Dr. Jim Reilly, Director of the USGS.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been a committed partner with the Mayors, AQSC, and federal agencies since planning for this partnership began. “The Corps’ missions along the Mississippi River include flood risk management, environmental stewardship, and ecosystem restoration. The healthier the Mississippi River system is ecologically, the more resilient and the better protected communities and economies are. This work compliments and supports Corps efforts from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico,” stated COL Zachary Miller, Commander of the Memphis District.

“The Mississippi River provides billions of gallons of fresh water to industry each day and drinking water to 20 million people in 50 cities. It is essential we know what is in our water,” confirmed Lionel Johnson, Mayor of St. Gabriel, LA and MRCTI Co-Chair.

Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative: MRCTI was created to provide an influential voice for the Mississippi River. MRCTI addresses infrastructure, community development, river water quality and habitat restoration, flooding and floodplain issues, river-focused recreation, sustainable economies, and celebration of the River culture and history. The Mississippi River is critical natural asset. As the ecological linchpin to the 31-state Mississippi River Basin, the River supports the most agriculturally productive region on the planet; creates nearly $500 billion in annual revenue; transports 40 percent of the nation’s agricultural output; and directly supports more than one 1.5 million jobs.

(American Queen Steamboat Company)