By Bob AndersonJune 5, 2013
Brigadier General Margaret W. Burcham was officially appointed as a member of the Mississippi River Commission by President Barack Obama May 28, 2013. Burcham is the first female general officer to be appointed to the commission.
Brig. Gen. Burcham is commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, headquartered in Cincinnati Ohio. The division has seven engineer districts totaling over 4,800 people operating in a seventeen state area, and is charged with directing federal water resource development in the Great Lakes and Ohio River basins with infrastructure valued at over $80 billion. With an annual operating and construction budget exceeding $2 billion, missions include planning, construction and operations of navigation structures and flood damage reduction, hydropower, environmental restoration, water conservation, recreation and disaster assistance.
The Corps of Engineers members of the Mississippi River Commission provide representation and leadership from the nation's three largest watersheds:
All MRC members are nominated and appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate of the United States.
The commission was created by an Act of Congress on June 28, 1879 to plan and provide for the general improvement of the entire length of the Mississippi River. This includes improving navigation, preventing destructive floods and facilitating commerce. The presidential appointees consist of three officers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and three civilians, two of whom must be civil engineers.
The commission itself is an advisory body. Its general duties include recommending policy and work programs, studying and reporting on modifications or changes to the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, commenting on matters authorized by law, making inspection trips, and holding public hearings that facilitate exchanges of viewpoints and ideas between the public and the MRC. Since 1879 the commission has been "listening, inspecting, partnering and engineering" with water resource interests in a watershed that is influenced by the drainage of over 41 percent of the United States and two provinces of Canada.