The barge industry again raised concerns Wednesday about the impact low water levels on the Mississippi River will have on shipping.
According to a new report from American Waterways Operators, low water could affect more than 8,000 jobs along the river. The group's spokeswoman, Ann McCulloch, says the situation isn't expected to improve any time soon.
"We're definitely worried about the immediate impact if commerce is severely impaired," said McCulloch. "We're at that stage already and at this point it can only get worse."
Updated 2:10 p.m. with information about excavation and blasting.
Updated at 4:45 p.m. to include comments from Jody Farhat of the Corps of Engineers.
The amount of water flowing into the lower Missouri River will be increased this week because of concerns about colder temperatures, but the increase isn't likely to boost the level of the Mississippi River downstream.
An updated Mississippi River forecast is predicting that low-water levels will likely linger throughout the winter. The forecast exacerbates concerns that shipping may be impacted along a key stretch near St. Louis.
The latest outlook by National Weather Service Hydrologist Mark Fuchs shows that without significant rain, the river at St. Louis will likely fall to dangerously low levels by the end of December
A top Army Corps of Engineers official says she believes the low Mississippi River will remain open to shipping, partly justifying the agency's decision to not release more water from the Missouri River into the Mississippi.
Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy, in a Thursday letter obtained by The Associated Press, tells lawmakers from Mississippi River states that the agency won't be scaling back the amount of Missouri River water it began withholding last month from the Mississippi.
Businesses that work and ship on the Mississippi River are seeking a presidential declaration keep water flowing out of reservoirs on the Missouri River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closes dams in South Dakota at this time every year to store water to maintain levels later in the spring and summer.
The Missouri River accounts for roughly 60 percent of the water flowing by St. Louis. In a drought-year like this year, George Foster of St. Louis’ J.B. Marine says reducing river levels would risk closing the shipping channel.