ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The mighty Mississippi is anything but mighty these days.
It is critically low and that has lots of people worried about things like barge traffic.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson tells me the river could reach an historically low level- in fact, the Coast Guard calls it a ‘slow moving disaster.’
Officials with the Corps of Engineers say they are doing all they can to combat that disaster and keep the river open to all traffic.
The Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard and the American Waterways Operators talked about the state of the Mississippi and what could be coming with these low levels. Rear Admiral Roy Nash said, “We are approaching conditions that have not been observed for many, many years.”
Topics included navigating the river including dealing with rock formations that could start showing up because the level is so low. The summer drought is still affecting the area months later. Major General John Peabody said, “We need rain, that’s the bottom line we’ve got to have rain.”
George Foster is with JB Marine Service, he said, ” I’ve been in the river industry for 48 years and I’ve never seen anything as critical as this.”
Almost 70 percent of the water in the Mississippi in St. Louis comes from the Missouri River. But folks upstream in North Dakota have the right to slow the flow so they can use the water for irrigation and other needs.
People in the barge industry here want President Obama to step and help solve the problem.
Authorities will talk about dredging operations as well.
A Corps of Engineers spokesperson said their crews have already been doing that for months to try and keep the water deep enough to keep everything moving- so far so good on that.
Paul Rohde with the Waterways Council said the low river could hammer the economy costing people jobs and businesses lots of money, “Depending on the length of this and the severity I could say billions very easily.”
A Coast Guard spokesperson tells us he does expect some restrictions on traffic eventually; it’s just a matter of how many and for how long.