When will low water levels on the Mississippi halt river traffic?
Lou Dell’orco, chief of operations of the St. Louis District of ACE, in a special podcast interview, outlines the problems for the barges, the action underway to prevent a closure of the river, and how the decision will be made regarding more water being released from the Missouri River. He says it will be a political decision in the end that will balance the needs of commerce with the needs for water conservation.
ACE officials indicate past efforts to grind out the rock in concert with dredging were not effective, and blasting out the rock is the only alternative. However, the work cannot be done until February, and must be quickly completed to not interfere with the spawning season of certain fish.
While barge traffic on the upper Mississippi slows or stops over the winter due to ice, that is not the case with the mid-Mississippi from the confluence of the Missouri River and south. However, low water levels from St. Louis, MO, to Cairo, IL, are at historic lows because of the drought, and barge tows are being threatened with running aground on bedrock formations in the channel, as the river drops. Plans are underway to remove portions of the rock, but not for several more months.
Source: FarmGate blog