Why Become a Member

 WHY WC I? PDF        Who Is WCI? PDF


Dear Prospective Member, 


As Chairman of Waterways Council, Inc.’s (WCI) membership efforts, let me take this opportunity to familiarize you with WCI, the national public policy organization advocating for a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways.


Our members include shippers and receivers of our nation’s bulk commodities, representing diverse commodities from agriculture, manufacturing, and energy entities from around the country.


We're also proud to include our Nation's building trades in WCI, with organized labor unions, contractors, and other construction interests working to rebuild our lock and dam infrastructure, as well as create and sustain jobs at riverside and landside facilities, bolstered by more efficient waterways transportation.


In all, we boast approximately 175 member companies, associations and unions, and partner with many more, especially as we look to find workable solutions with organizations focused on river conservation efforts. WCI has accomplished great things since its inception in December 2003.


WCI programs and operations rely solely on the financial resources of the organization’s membership. We work to promote the importance of our inland river transportation network to policy leaders, the news media, and the general public. We are seeing progress in this regard through higher appropriations funding levels in both Operations and Maintenance and Construction accounts for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This will ultimately create hundreds of millions of construction work-hours and regenerate America’s economic prosperity through more efficient river transportation. 


Our timely legislative initiatives are achieved by direct lobbying on Capitol Hill as well as in the districts/states, complemented with a strategic public education and media outreach, as well as activating our grassroots network. A strong foundation of public awareness is necessary to meet the challenges ahead, and our success is based solely on funding from our members.


As we move into the next 20 years of WCI's successes, I invite you to consider joining WCI for a bright future ahead.   



Lee Nelson
President, Upper River Services
St. Paul, Minnesota
(651) 292-9293


Our Coalition

WCI is a broad-based coalition of shippers and inland carriers, waterways service providers, contractors, ports, manufacturers, energy providers, agriculture and agribusiness interests, organized labor, conservation organizations, and other advocacy groups.

For more than two decades, WCI continues to provide tremendous value to its members who rely on the infrastructure that supports a strong and vibrant inland waterways transportation system.

Changing Public Policy

WCI is the respected voice to Congress & the Administration. From Congressional hearings to one-on-one meetings, WCI is a valued resource on public policy.  

• Increasing appropriations for lock and dam modernization. WCI leads the charge to increase federal investment in construction funding, delivering $1.3 billion in Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)-financed projects since 2001;

WCI Chairman Peter Stephaich presents Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) the 2020 Leadership Service Award  


• Preserving the Inland Waterways Trust Fund by highlighting the multiple stakeholders benefiting from the completion of Olmsted dam. The IWTF was never designed to be a blank check. Shifting the 50%-50% cost to 85% federal-15% diesel fuel revenues will allow approximately $546 million for other priority projects;

• Prioritizing the $8 billion portfolio of lock rehabilitation and modernization. WCI members reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deliver a 20-year capital development plan;  


Immediate goals: completed Olmsted’s dam (operational in 2018) while finishing Chickamauga, Lower Mon 2,3,4 and Kentucky projects; modernizing the Upper Mississippi & Illinois Rivers through the Navigation-Ecosystem Sustainability Program(NESP); maximizing efficiency on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW);  Achieving a 9-cent per gallon increase into diesel fuel revenues. WCI members unanimously and voluntarily recommended a 45% increase to the per-gallon diesel fuel user fee, leveraging an additional $145 million per year available for lock construction;


                                                         Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) receives the 2019 Leadership Service Award from Wade Beasley, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters

• Authorizing legislation. WCI led the advocacy effort for the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), providing Congress a blueprint for completing the backlog of rehabilitations and new construction;                                                                                                                                                                                        


• Stopping lockage tolls or other taxes. WCI continues to prevent proposals that would negatively impact barge transportation;

• Achieving funding. WCI urged Congress to appropriate nearly $450 million in 100% federal stimulus funding for lock and dam construction – unrequested by the Administration – in the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.


• WCI successfully urged the Corps of Engineers to develop a 20-year capital investment strategy, the Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Projects Business Model of April 2010, which has become law and drives prioritization of project delivery;

• WCI members infused industry perspectives into the WRRDA 2014-authorized update to the capital investment strategy;

• WCI provides outreach to state legislators, governors and mayors;


Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton tours Upper Mississippi River Lock 15 in 2018

• WCI is an important partner in Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) initiatives such as dredging and continues to engage Congress toward full annual appropriations of the $1.6 billion deposited annually into the HMTF;

• WCI searches for collaborative opportunities with conservation organizations;

• WCI is active in other entities important to the inland waterways, including the National Waterways Foundation, which commissions research on the importance of the inland waterway system, and the Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB), an advisory board to Congress and the Administration;

Your Voice for Locks & Dams

• WCI is the go-to source for regional, national and international media. WCI iswidely recognized as a respected voice of industries impacted by the waterways;

• Comprehensive media & public education campaigns.  Award-winning brochures and publications illustrate the importance of our waterways system. Easy downloads available at www.waterwayscouncil.org;

• WCI’s TV commercial brings the waterways to the airwaves!  Several iterations of our television commercial as well as other education videos.  View it here.  

WCI Midwest Vice President Paul Rohde with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA


• Outreach to editorial boards of publications across the United States;

• Supporting RiverWorks Discovery, Living Lands & Waters, and other efforts highlighting the importance of our rivers and waterways;

Membership Connectivity

WCI provides multiple opportunities for members to stay connected and network:

• Bi-weekly Roundtable Discussion conference calls address the latest legislative developments, WCI staff activity, and timely topics of interest to members


• Bi-weekly E-briefs keep members informed

• Our Capitol Currents newsletter provides comprehensive information from a national and regional perspective, including the Member Spotlight and Conservation Column features

• Multiple online resources

  • waterwayscouncil.org provides a wealth of statistics and easy access to legislators through our Action Center
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

‍• Our WCI Annual Meeting and Waterways Symposium, held each November


• Our annual Washington, D.C. Meetings held in February- the premier fly-in to discuss waterways transportation issues with Congress and the Administration

• More info?  Text LOCKS to 52886