Staying put in the face of flooding can be dangerous and is growing increasingly costly. Property taxes are the largest source of tax revenue for local governments in most states, but property value declines as flood risk increases. Local governments have doubled their infrastructure spending while federal funding remains relatively flat. The federal government covers about 40% of water and transportation construction, but states are left to maintain it.
Flooding is happening with more frequency and lasting longer, changing floodplain habitats. Invasive species are working their way further up the river and into its tributaries. And despite efforts to curb pollution running off land and into the river, the dead zone where the Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico still persists.Advocates for the river are hoping that a proposed federal funding program, modeled after an effort to clean up the Great Lakes, could change that trajectory.