ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Recent rain and snow storms are giving the mighty Mississippi River a much needed boost. Mike Petersen, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say water levels are on the rise. “Right now the St. Louis river gauge is at about 1.7 feet. That’s a positive 1.7. We’ve actually been in the negative many many times this year. However, the river is coming up and that’s good news,” said Petersen.
You may recall plenty of bad news a few weeks ago about water leverls being dangerously low because of the drought. The situation was so bad, members of Congress got involved after learning low water levels threated to shut down barge traffic on the Mississippi.
In December of last year, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill vowed to solicit help from President Obama. “We’re trying to get the president to declare an economic disaster to force the release of more water in the upper regions of the Missouri River. The people that are charged with managing the Missouri River don’t have in their portfolio what is the status of the Mississippi River.”
However, the weather coupled with heavy dredging on the river helped keep traffic moving.
Barges that carried half a load or less a month or so ago, are now hauling full loads of grain, coal, products for food processing and other commodities. The Senior Manager of Bulk Sales at AEP River Operations in Chesterfield, Martin Hettel couldn’t be happier. “We’re back to loading our barges with between 1900 and 2000 tons. we’re back to towing barges with 20 to 25 barges on the tow boats. needless to say the more tons you can carry per barge, the less cost it is to the average user of that product.”
That means you might see lower food prices in area grocery stores soon – thanks to man and mother nature. “We’ve made it to spring through some pretty low water conditions. Now, we’re looking towards next year,” said Petersen.