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      Infrastructure upgrades needed now to Mississippi River system

      Over the last few weeks we've all been reminded of how important the Mississippi River is to life in the Tri-States.

      That system is showing signs of wear and tear and there is growing concern about the future of the lock and dam system.

      Two Iowa lawmakers toured the river system on Tuesday with a final stop in Fort Madison.

      They addressed their concerns about the river and what can be done to preserve this vital asset for future generations.

      With the lock and dam system showing the signs of age, Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack and Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley spoke with concerned citizens, state and local officials during a visit to Fort Madison on Tuesday.

      "I wanted to talk to local folks about how they dealt with the high water and then also just talk with the folks about what we can do in terms of upgrading, possibly replacing some of these locks and dams. Doing what can in terms of infrastructure to make sure that the river continues to play the role that it has and expandable for that matter with communities up and down the river," Loebsack said.

      Loebsack says when it comes to infrastructure improvements, America is getting left behind by other nations.

      "That's being upgraded. That's all will hold essentially a higher capacity barge, a ship going through there. That means that grain from here can get loaded on the river and go out eventually through the Panama Canal and compete with the Brazillians," he said.

      Because of the financial troubles of the federal government, Congressman Loebsack and Rep. Braley both agree that one of the big keys to rebuilding the nation's infrastructure including the lock and dam system is public/private partnerships.

      "It's gonna cost a lot of money,billions of dollars. The federal government doesn't have that much money. The private sector can make a contribution. It would serve their interest. Skin in the game on the part of both the government, the taxpayers on the one hand and private industry on the other that's what were hearing all up and down the river," Loebsack said.

      Lee County Emergency Management Director Steve Cirnnia says that controlling flooding has to be a top priority.

      "We're starting to see these 100 year, 500 year floods becoming more frequent and what is that. And I think that's where we really need to start focusing on what is the cause of it and how do we eliminate that cause to get back to where it was years ago when we weren't have the floods like that," Cirinna said.