NPR : News

Filed Under:

As Water Level Falls, Concerns About Mississippi River's Barge Traffic Rise

With a gauge at the tricky section of the Mississippi River near Thebes, Ill., already registering a remarkably low water level — and projections that it will fall further in coming days and weeks — trade groups are warning that barge traffic through that part of the river may have to halt completely as soon as next week.

The Army Corps of Engineers, as Marketplace Sustainability reports, continues to move and break up rocks in that stretch of the river in an effort to keep the shipping channel open for about 180 miles from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill., where the Mississippi meets the Ohio River. Traffic has already been slowed. Ships can only pass through at night, when the Army Corps isn't working.

Reuters notes that the Corps has also "released water from a southern Illinois lake into the river to aid transportation." But the ongoing drought across much of the nation's midsection and ice upriver that is slowing water headed downstream mean the situation above Cairo is likely to only get worse.

The negative effects could be substantial. According to Bloomberg News, "shippers carry about $7 billion in goods including crude oil and grain on the Mississippi in December and January. Tugboat and barge operators have warned that thousands of jobs in Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana and other states in the country's midsection were at risk if the river shuts down."

Still, Bloomberg adds, the Corps is hopeful that any disruption would be relatively short: "We remain cautiously optimistic that if we do have any interruptions, it will be short in duration as we continue to maintain a safe and reliable navigation channel," Major General John Peabody, the Corps' Mississippi Valley Division commander, said in a statement released Monday.

Lynn Muench, senior vice president of regional affairs with American Waterways Operators, a trade group, tells Marketplace that the Corps should have moved sooner to clear rocks from the bend at Thebes.

For ongoing coverage of the Mississippi's water woes, check with our colleagues at St. Louis Public Radio.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In 'Rams,' Two Icelandic Brothers Tend Troubles Of Flock And Family

Gummi and Kiddi are two sheep-herding brothers who've spent a lifetime butting heads near the top of the world. When a disease threatens their flocks, they must overcome decades of estrangement.
NPR

Beer And Snack Pairings: A Super Bowl Game Everyone Can Win

Which beer goes with guacamole? How can a brew complement spicy wings? Two craft beer experts share their favorite pairings and help us take our Super Bowl snack game to the next level.
NPR

Tourists Flock To New Hampshire For Front Row Seat To Presidential Politics

NPR's Robert Siegel reports on people who are not involved in presidential campaigns traveling to New Hampshire to observe the action surrounding the primary. There are families trying to give their kids a civics lesson, couples trying to see presidential politics up close, and groups of students who serve as interns for campaigns as part of their studies.
NPR

OK, Google, Where Did I Put My Thinking Cap?

It can be too easy for students to Google an assignment before they stop to think about it. Some researchers say we're losing our critical thinking and memory skills by relying on the search bar.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.