Low water levels could halt Mississippi barge traffic - Bring Me The News

Low water levels could halt Mississippi barge traffic


The Army Corps of Engineers began reducing the flow of the Missouri River reservoir on Friday which has the potential to bring barge traffic along the Mississippi River to a halt, the Associated Press reports.

The corps' decision is in the best interest of the upper Missouri River basin. Both rivers have seen a big drop in water levels due to severe drought.

Barges are already required to carry lighter loads. If the water level at St. Louis dips below minus five feet, the river could be closed to barge traffic creating devastating economic consequences. The water level Saturday was at minus 0.44 feet. The Associated Press reports minus 5 feet could be reached by Dec. 10.

Water from reservoirs in Minnesota began heading downstream last week, but its only expected to help raise water levels a few inches.

USA Today reports $7 billion in commodities are shipped along the river in December and January.

More than 60 percent of grain exports and 20 percent of the country's coal is carried by barges. If a closure occurred, delivering fertilizer to the Midwest for spring planting would have to be shipped by trucks or train, creating higher costs for farmers.

Fifteen senators from Mississippi River states including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken are urging the corps to take steps to keep barges moving.

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Minneapolis could halt barge traffic at city port due to Asian carp

City leaders would like to get rid of the city's aging port in north Minneapolis, and an invasive fish provides a good reason to move quickly, the Star Tribune reports. Officials on Tuesday talked over a plan to stop all barge activity at the city's 50-year-old terminal on the Mississippi River by April 2013, which could help block a path for Asian carp into greater Minnesota.