Drought conditions cause concern about Mississippi River barge traffic

Drought conditions cause concern about Mississippi River barge traffic

(WMC-TV) – There is fear that barge traffic could be shut down along the Mississippi River due to drought conditions that could affect shipping conditions.

"We're still remarkably low for this time of year," said Jim Pogue, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A few hundred miles north of Memphis, the corps has drastically reduced the water flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi River because of ongoing drought conditions in the region.

As a result, the corps expects the water level to go down near St. Louis, in all likelihood, shutting down or drastically reducing barge traffic here.

Pogue says the corps does not expect a trickledown effect in Memphis.

"So we're watching that situation closely but again we really don't expect that to have any significant impact on us down here because most of our water comes down the Ohio River," said Pogue. "We get 60-70 percent of our water out of the Ohio River."

Above the Ohio River, concern is on the rise. Three governors, 80 members of Congress, and countless riverboat captains have asked the corps to reconsider.

They are also on the verge of requesting presidential intervention. Still, things here in Memphis remain the same.

"Normally, we would see the river quite a bit higher than it is now. I think it's going to be a gradual return to more normal conditions," said Pogue.

The corps says it manages the Mississippi river based on a balanced approach with navigation, hydropower, recreation, and water supply as the main decision making factors.

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