Mississippi River level keeps dropping in Memphis
Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:00 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — The Mississippi River’s water level keeps dropping, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis said Wednesday it is using survey boats and dredges to maintain safe navigation.
Meanwhile, river barge and tow boat operators are continuing to lose money as they reduce the amount of material they can safely carry on the river.
The National Weather Service said Wednesday that drought has dropped the river’s summer level in Memphis to about 13 feet below normal, and it is forecast to fall about 21⁄2 feet more by Aug. 22. That would be more than 55 feet lower than the highest reading taken during last year’s near-historic flood.
To deal with the falling river, Army Corps survey boats are teaming up with government and commercial dredges to dig out sand and silt and ensure the navigation channel is deep enough for barges loaded with coal, steel, agricultural products and other goods.
Also, stone dikes are speeding the flow of water through certain areas, causing the river to deposit less sediment in the channel. The Corps is required to provide a minimum navigation channel that is 9 feet deep and 300 feet wide on the lower Mississippi River, according to a news release.
Despite the low levels and a higher number of groundings than typical, Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Gomez said there are no current plans to close sections of the river. Even if the river does fall by another 21⁄2 feet, it would still end up about 1 foot short of the record low set in 1988, when a section of the river was closed for days.
Published in The Messenger 7.26.12
Mississippi River, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers