On June 13, 2023, leadership and staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD) joined members from the Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA), the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), the Ohio River Basin Congressional Caucus and other partners and stakeholders in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC for the Ohio River Basin Day on the Hill.
The event included a congressional breakfast reception with speakers representing many interests and stakeholders from across the Ohio River Basin, addressing important issues and challenges across the watershed. Speakers at the event included Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-6), Rep. Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), ORBA Chairperson Craig Butler, and other leaders throughout the region.
Ohio River Basin Day was open to all those with interest in protecting natural resources, safeguarding public health, and enhancing the quality of life for those within the Ohio River Basin.
The USACE LRD Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Kimberly Peeples, represented USACE at the event by sharing remarks regarding the organizations involvement throughout the basin.
“I am honored to represent the USACE at the inaugural ORB Day on the Hill,” said Brig. Gen. Peeples. “We are honored to be here and a part of this amazing team.”
Brig. Gen. Peeples discussed the history of the Corps’ priorities on the Ohio River Basin, including USACE's ongoing support throughout the watershed.
“USACE has been executing a military program since 1775, when Gen. George Washington appointed Gen. Richard Gridley as the Army’s first Chief Engineer,” said Brig. Gen. Peeples. “In 1824, lead by Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky, Congress enacted laws approving surveys and transportation routes, and experimental improvements of waterway navigation. Later that same year on May 24, 1824, Congress enacted the Ohio River Division to begin the removal of snags and debris from the Ohio River to improve the channel. And so it began, here in the Ohio River Basin, the USACE Civil Works mission. A proud tradition we carry on today of both military and civil works across America for National Security and the public good. As a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) supplemental appropriation and general funds, the Corps is executing a historic program. These investments have enabled them to address aging navigation and flood risk management infrastructure as well as pursue opportunities to protect and restore natural ecosystems.”
Brig. Gen. Peeples also spoke about key partnerships throughout the region, and how LRD continues to engage with these partners to provide solutions in a changing environment.
“We recognize though that there is more to do, and the challenges we face throughout the Ohio River Basin and across the nation continue to evolve. Issues such as changing weather patterns, and natural disasters, flood risk, habitat concerns, and again aging infrastructure,” said Brig. Gen. Peeples. “All of these issues demonstrate and invoke a need for collaboration, communication, and action. In 2009, under the Corps planning assistance to states authority, Louisville and Nashville district partnered with ORSANCO as a non-federal partner to develop a strategic plan for the Ohio River Basin. We are proud partners with the Ohio River Basin states, the alliance, ORSANCO, and all stakeholders to address the future in a holistic and deliberate action. Collectively, we’re on our way to operationalizing the strategic plan within the Ohio River Basin, maximizing the talent, the passion and authority of all involved as a region.”
In 2019 and 2020, ORBA worked with ORSANCO and USACE to develop a Strategic Plan for the Ohio River Basin. The document provided six Ohio River Basin-wide priorities including abundant and clean water, healthy and productive ecosystems, knowledge and education to inform decision making, commerce, reliable flood risk management, and recreation opportunities. The plan lays out objectives and strategic actions for meeting these priorities.
The Ohio River Basin Day was a successful event to further engage with stakeholders and key leaders around the basin to develop these regional partnerships and ensure these strategic initiatives come to fruition, with the assistance of congressional leaders and USACE.
To find out more about ORSANCO, ORBA, and The Ohio River Strategic Plan visit https://www.orsanco.org/ohio-river-basin-alliance-orba/
To view a video of Brig. Gen. Peeples Remarks, visit https://youtu.be/9PEVl98FjTk