MRC, Mekong River panel sign deal to work together

Published 12:13 pm Thursday, May 20, 2010

After nearly a year of discussions, the Mississippi River Commission is working with the Mekong River Commission to promote public safety and community welfare near the two river basins.

The commissions began collaborating decades of experience in July, following a meeting of Mekong Foreign Ministers in Phuket, Thailand, when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committed to the partnership.

Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, president of the Mississippi River Commission, and Jeremy Bird, chief executive officer for the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, each signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further research, improve development of water resources and advance systems for more environmentally-sound water resource engineering, said Robert Anderson, communications officer for the Mississippi River Commission.

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“Both the Mississippi River Commission and the Mekong River Commission have been addressing similar issues for a number of years,” said Walsh.

The commissions will share research and expertise related to hydropower, managing competing demands for water use, navigation improvements, food security, fish passage, wetland restoration, how river systems adapt to climate change, maintaining water quality as well as water resource management and forecasting during floods and droughts.

“We will cooperate in the field of water resources development and management by sharing available technical expertise and lessons learned,” said Walsh. “We will also explore ways to collaborate on water projects of mutual interest.”

The Mississippi River Commission was established by an act of Congress in 1879 to design plans to improve the condition of the Mississippi River, foster navigation, promote commerce and prevent destructive floods.

The Mekong River Commission, an intergovernmental body including Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Vietnam, addresses identifying opportunities for agriculture, sustainable hydropower, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving ecosystems.

“The Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission are very similar in terms of their principles and mandates,” said Bird. “Both organizations are therefore well-placed to benefit each other through a technical exchange and learn how to best manage their respective complex trans-boundary rivers.”