Climate Change Near Rivers

Realized and Potential Challenges:

The National Climate Assessment projects that extreme weather events in the Missouri and Mississippi River basins will lead to increased flooding along the major rivers and their tributaries in Missouri. The flooding is exacerbated by outdated infrastructure, water management conflicts between local, state, and federal regulators, and floodplain development and agricultural practices that reduce water infiltration. Areas that are not directly adjacent to the major rivers in Missouri may still be impacted by increased flooding, such as those areas adjacent to Missouri and Mississippi River tributaries (i.e., Lamine River, Grand River, Osage River, etc.)

Ongoing Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts:

After the extensive flooding that occurred in 2019, the Governor of Missouri signed an executive order to establish a flood recovery advisory working group. Missouri also take part in basin-wide conversations about river management in the Missouri and Mississippi River watersheds. The Clean Water Commission is predominantly tasked with representing the state in basin-wide conversations. Additionally, as a result of flooding in 2019, additional resources have been allocated to funding river infrastructure. For instance, the state secured a federal grant for $81.2 million to repair the Rocheport Bridge of I-70 over the Missouri River through an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant.

According to a report from the Soil Health Initiative, Missouri farmers increased their adoption of no-till and cover crop practices by 15.6% and 115.9%, respectively, between 2012 and 2017. Approximately $20 million in annual funds are allocated to Missouri farmers for increasing their cover crop usage through several state and federal agencies. Finally, there have been efforts to restrict development in floodplains by changing flood insurance criteria. Cities and towns along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are increasingly concerned about riverfront areas and historic places that may be at risk if rivers continue to flood more regularly.