The mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Mississippi Valley is accomplished by two distinct, complementary organizations -- the Mississippi Valley Division and the Mississippi River Commission:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division
The division commander is directly responsible to the chief of engineers. Within the authorities delegated, the division commander directs and supervises the district commander in six U.S. Army Engineer Districts (St. Paul, Rock Island, St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans) in performing the following missions:
- Preparing engineering studies and design.
- Constructing, operating and maintaining flood control and river and harbor facilities and installations.
- Administering the laws on civil works activities.
- Acquiring, managing and disposing of real estate.
- Mobilization support of military, natural disaster and national emergency operations.
Mississippi River Commission
The Mississippi River Commission was established in 1879 to facilitate improvement of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes near its mouth to its headwaters. The stated mission of the commission is to:
- Develop and implement plans to correct, permanently locate and deepen the channel of the Mississippi River.
- Improve and give safety and ease to the navigation thereof.
- Prevent destructive floods.
- Promote and facilitate commerce, trade and the postal service.
For nearly a half century the MRC functioned as an executive body reporting directly to the Secretary of War. The disastrous 1927 flood changed the mission of the MRC. The consequent 1928 Flood Control Act created the Mississippi River and Tributaries project. The act assigned responsibility for developing and implementing the Mississippi River and Tributaries project to the Mississippi River Commission. The MR&T project provides for:
- Control of floods of the Mississippi River from Head of Passes to vicinity of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
- Control of floods of the tributaries and outlets of the Mississippi River as they are affected by its backwaters.
- Improvement for navigation of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Cairo, Illinois. This includes improvements to certain harbors and improvement for navigation of Old and Atchafalaya rivers from the Mississippi River to Morgan City, Louisiana.
- Bank stabilization of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes to Cairo, Illinois.
- Preservation, restoration and enhancement of environmental resources, including but not limited to measures for fish and wildlife, increased water supplies, recreation, cultural resources and other related water resources development programs.
- Semi-annual inspection trips to observe river conditions and facilitate coordination with local interests in implementation of the project.
MRC President and Mission Execution
The president of the Mississippi River Commission is its executive head. The mission is executed through the Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Engineer Districts in St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans.