Low water levels could force the Mississippi River to close even earlier than expected in January, despite efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove rock pinnacle
A revised forecast issued by the corps on Christmas Eve suggests waterborne commerce could end on Jan. 3 or 4, the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council Inc. said. Previous projections had anticipated closure coming in mid-January.
The corps and the Coast Guard have said they have no plans to close the river, the associations said, but the latest forecast and falling water levels will preclude navigation because towboats, which mostly require a nine-foot draft to operate, will be unable to transit the “bottleneck reach” between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill.
Stakeholders are urging the Obama administration to release water from the Missouri River reservoirs to avert the effective shutdown of the Mississippi River to barge transportation.