Petition Closed
Petitioning Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and 1 other

Mississippi River - Ask President Obama to Protect Our Rivers and Our Communities


Invest in our natural defenses and help protect our communities from flooding.

Wetlands and floodplains are our natural defenses against flooding. They reduce the risk of flooding by slowing and storing flood waters, helping to keep our communities, homes, and businesses safe. Natural flood mitigation approaches can have a huge pay off as well - every dollar invested in mitigation yields $5 in avoided losses.

Economists estimate that one acre of wetlands provides up to $10,000 worth of ecosystem services1. This includes filtering drinking water, protecting our coasts from hurricanes and storms, and preventing flooding.

But America loses approximately 80,000 acres of wetlands annually — 125 square miles every year. The Obama Administration is taking important steps to do something about it but they need your support.

Take Action: Tell President Obama to protect our rivers by protecting the wetlands and floodplains that act as our natural lines of defense against flooding.

Letter to
Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley
President of the United States
As a supporter of American Rivers, I am deeply concerned for the communities living along the Mississippi River during this unprecedented flooding as well as future threats to my part of the country.

I applaud your administration for issuing new guidance that clarifies federal protections for wetlands and small streams and urge you to finalize it soon. I urge you to go even further by transforming the way we plan and implement water resources projects for things like flood control. Your leadership on the new water resources planning Principles and Guidelines (P&G) is critical to ensure that they not only protect the health and well-being of the people who live and depend upon the Mississippi River, but also all of the American people and the environment that we cherish.

The Administration has an unparalleled opportunity to establish new P&G for our federal water resources projects so that they protect the public, protect and restore the environment, and improve the economic vitality of communities across the nation for decades to come. The new P&G must set clear criteria and requirements to guide project planning, including a requirement to utilize non-structural, restoration, and water efficiency approaches to solving water problems when those solutions are available and practicable. If a water resources problem can be solved by non-structural solutions that help to protect and restore our natural defenses, this should be the first choice.

Our natural defenses - healthy streams, wetlands, floodplains, upland and coastal areas absorb, store, and slowly release floodwaters naturally. A floodplain with trees, natural vegetation, or flood tolerant crops is much more useful in soaking up rainfall and storing floodwaters than row crop agriculture or pavement. Natural flood mitigation approaches can have a huge pay off as well - every dollar invested in mitigation yields $5 in avoided losses.

As the record flooding on the Mississippi River moves south and the scenes of devastation in Mississippi River communities continue, this should be a call to action to get the new P&G right and should reiterate the need for a more comprehensive plan for the basin. Our future safety depends on the choices that we make today. By making the right decisions on how we plan our federal water resources projects we will not only weather future storms and improve public safety, we will ultimately save money and enjoy all of the benefits healthy rivers and floodplains provide.

Our nation's commitment to the Mississippi River and all of our nation's waters is needed now more than ever.

Thank you for considering my request.