Mississippi River | St. Louis Public Radio

Mississippi River

The Sny Island Levee System in Illinois is one of 10 levee systems that have exceeded their authorized heights, according to a survey conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District this year.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are supporting northeast Missouri residents' suspicions that overbuilt levees along the Upper Mississippi River have led to increased flooding for vulnerable communities. 

The Corps of Engineers last spring surveyed levee heights in the Rock Island District, which runs from Keokuk, Iowa, to Thebes, Illinois, and discovered that 40 percent of the levees exceeded regulation. The federal agency released a model at the end of January that measured the impact the overbuilt levees have on river flooding. The model, however, requires an experienced engineer to operate, so environmental advocacy group American Rivers hired a consultant to do so this month.

Barge traffic along the Mississippi plays a key role in the U.S. economy.
File photo

Some heavy equipment is pounding away this week at the rock in a section of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the removal is essential to keeping cargo moving along the river. Crews are working this week at Thebes, Illinois, near Cape Girardeau.

Shipping on the Mississippi is vital to the U.S. economy. A Corps spokesman said more than 100 million tons of cargo, including 60 percent of the nation's agricultural exports, move along the river every year. And the engineers have a responsibility to keep the shipping channel at least 9-feet deep and 300-feet wide.

The Mississippi River as seen Sept. 13, 2017, from the Four Seasons Hotel in Laclede's Landing at St. Louis.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Leaders of Mississippi River communities want to update and upgrade their infrastructure, but said Wednesday they’ll need outside financial help.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held its annual meeting in St. Louis. About 30 mayors were there to talk about how their communities can survive natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The mayors also discussed strategies for attracting private investments for city improvements.

A view of the Mississippi River from Dubuque, IA, where government agencies, environmentalists, engineers and residents gathered to discuss flood risks along the upper Mississippi River.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Communities along the upper Mississippi River have seen a major uptick in heavy rains and flooding in the last decade.

Residents, environmentalists, engineers and government agencies agree that they need a coordinated strategy to manage flooding. That could be particularly important in coming years, as scientists predict that climate change will likely bring more heavy rain to the region.

The Sny Island Levee System in Illinois is one of 10 levee systems that have exceeded their authorized heights, according to a survey conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District this year.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Guyton has lived by the Mississippi River her entire life. She and her husband farm in Annada, a small town on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. She knows that growing crops on the floodplain comes with some risks.

The Guytons’ farm, about 65 miles north of St. Louis, endured major floods along the Mississippi in 1993 and 2008. But since 2008, she’s noticed more flood events.

Hazy photo of the Mississippi River with a tugboat and the Gateway Arch in the distance.
Paul Sableman |Wikimedia Commons

A new agreement between the Port of New Orleans and the St. Louis Regional Freightway aims to boost cargo shipments on the Mississippi River.

Officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding in New Orleans on Thursday to coordinate their efforts in working with regional shippers and carriers. The goal is growing trade and building upon existing and new business relationships between the two regions and critical ports.

The Delta Queen is in dry dock in Houma, La.
Photo provided by Delta Queen Steamboat Company

Legislation that would enable the owners of the Delta Queen to return the historic steamboat to cruise service on the Mississippi River has been reintroduced by Missouri’s U.S. senators.

Hazy photo of the Mississippi River with a tugboat and the Gateway Arch in the distance.
Paul Sableman |Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation is funding efforts to increase container-on-barge traffic along the Mississippi River. 

Federal and local officials on Monday announced six Marine Highway Grants, including two aimed at boosting freight at the Port of St. Louis and America’s Central Port in Granite City.

Increasing containers on the nation’s inland waterways will be necessary to meet increasing demand over the next 30 years, said U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen.

Local community leaders say a new website devoted to the Mississippi River will boost tourism up and down the river.

They gathered Wednesday at the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton to celebrate the launch of the Mississippi River Geotourism MapGuide, a website that highlights river towns, attractions and businesses. The project, which took more than two years to complete, is a partnership between National Geographic Maps, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and regional organizations like the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation.

Mississippi River, dredging, Eads
Rachel Heidenry | 2008 file photo

A $9 billion bill in Congress that could improve waterway navigation and water systems in Missouri is a step closer to being signed into law.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 399-25 to approve the Water Resources Development Act — in a rare show of bipartisan support. The Senate passed its version of the bill earlier last month. 

The Water Resources Development Act, authorized every two years, gives the green light to the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation, water quality and work on other water projects.

"MSDFLOWers" with glass cairn by Libby Reuter and photograph by Josh Bowen
Libby Reuter I Provided

A new collection of artwork debuting Friday — Earth Day — uses different mediums to remind us not to take St. Louis’ abundant water supply for granted.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Fog added a magical touch to the drive along the Great River Road in Illinois on Sunday. 

For much of the day, the fog held thick over the water at Grafton, the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. By dusk, the blanket had thinned, offering stunning photo ops.

barge shipping, Mississippi River
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A barge and transportation industry group is sharply criticizing the president’s budget request for river infrastructure and upkeep.

Waterways Council Inc. called President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps the "most disappointing to date." The budget proposes $4.6 billion for the Corps’ civil works program, nearly 30 percent less than the current appropriation by Congress.

America's Central Port

The forecast for 2016 in Madison County and the St. Louis region’s newly-created freight district includes 9,600 feet of rail track, 1 million cubic yards of dirt and 8,000 cubic yards of concrete — and the sound of barge horns. The South Harbor at America’s Central Port was recently christened and is set to open in 2016 — with an expected increase in commodities flow by 25 percent.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Mississippi River basin got its first-ever report card from the America’s Watershed Initiative ... and it was nothing to write home about.

The overall grade is D+.

Record rain in June, but no fear of 1993 flood levels

Jul 9, 2015
Water levels on the Mississippi River rise to flood stages underneath Eads Bridge.
Sarah Kellogg

On Thursday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh led a discussion on the threat of flooding in the St. Louis area due to this year’s rainfall. Joining Marsh were Mark Fuchs, a service hydrologist for the National Weather Service, and Matthew Hunn, chief of emergency management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis.

Rivers crest after wettest June on record

Jul 3, 2015
Water levels on the Mississippi River rise to flood stages underneath Eads Bridge.
Sarah Kellogg

Most of the major waterways in the St. Louis region have crested or are near their crests following the wettest June on record.  More than 13.1 inches of rain fell last month, nearly an inch more than the previous record set in 2003.

High water levels on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers are declining and the Missouri River at St. Charles is forecast to crest at about four feet above flood stage Saturday afternoon.

Army Corps eyes levees as waters rise

Jun 17, 2015
(via Flickr/clip works)

Updated at 6 p.m., Friday, June 19:

More than a week's worth of persistent rainfall is testing the region's system of levees and reservoirs

George Caleb Bingham painted 'The Jolly Flatboatmen' in 1846. The oil-on-canvas painting is part of the St. Louis Art Museum's Bingham exhibit.
Courtesy of the St. Louis Art Museum

A new exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum tackles the personal interests of a Missouri painter known for his depictions of 19th century elections and politics.

“They are the most spectacular paintings he did,” said Melissa Wolfe, the new curator of American art at the museum.

trains, freight trains
(Flicker)

Civic and business leaders say the St. Louis region has to be ready to capitalize on an expected increase in freight across the United States.

It was the topic of conversation at the St. Louis Regional Transportation Forum on Thursday in Collinsville.

"St. Louis stands in a very good position to expand its capabilities, expand our economy and expand our jobs in the St. Louis region," said John Nations, president and CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency/Metro.

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