Water levels in the Mississippi River remain low due to the 2012 drought, and navigation could soon suffer as a result. The National Waterways Conference, of which the Iowa Corn Growers Association is a member, last week, addressed the situation in a joint letter with the Waterways Council, Inc. and the American Waterways Operators organization. The three groups sent their letter to officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency which regulates the dams and water levels on the river. Of course, Mother Nature, with the 2012 drought, is doing most of the lowering of the water levels these days.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to gradually reduce the flow of water out of its big Gavin's Point Dam in South Dakota on the upper Missouri River, a move aimed at preserving water levels in the drought stricken reservoir system on the upper Missouri River. Less water flowing from the Missouri River into the Mississippi River at St. Louis will lead to navigation problems on the lower Mississippi River south of St. Louis, barge operators say. The effect on the Mississippi River further north, such as barge shipping Davenport, Iowa, will likely be minimal, says Jim Stiman, chief of water control for the Rock Island district for the Corps of Engineers. The river is mostly shut down over the winter months anyway, because of ice, he points out.
Iowa Corn Growers Association sent letter of concern to Army Corps of Engineers
In the letter, the group's requested that the Mississippi River Control Management Board consider any options to maintain a 9 foot navigation channel in the Mississippi River. The letter encourages the Corps to use Missouri River reservoirs to benefit navigation on the downstream areas of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The letter proposes sustaining navigation by managing Missouri River water flows as well as dredging and removing rocks from the Mississippi River to keep a 9-foot channel. The letter also requests that Mississippi River navigation stakeholders be included in the decision-making process.