After years of drought, barge operators along the Missouri River got more rain than they had hoped for this year.
The industry had grown optimistic when rising river levels appeared to promise an increase in barge traffic this year. The Missouri Department of Transportation even projected a 15 percent to 20 percent increase.
But then the rains started, causing flooding along the 675-mile stretch from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis. That prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to close the river between Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota and Glasgow, Mo.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will reduce water releases from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota, a sign that major Missouri River flooding could be nearing an end.
The corps' Omaha District construction chief, Robert Michaels, says the corps will decrease the water volume gradually from its current 160,000 cubic feet per second. The corps plans to drop the flow to 155,000 cubic feet per second on July 31 and cut it to 150,000 cubic feet per second on Aug. 1.
Credit (Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/Photo by Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk)
Aerial views of the Missouri River in the Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota area June 8, 2011. The upstream Garrison Dam was releasing water into the Missouri River at a flow of 140,000 cubic feet per second.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of a June 28 letter in which Vilsack questions the Corps' decision not to release more water from dams earlier in the spring to prevent prolonged flooding this summer. The flooding followed spring rains and the melting of a deep Rocky Mountain snowpack.