The Army Corps of Engineers is actively dredging the Mississippi River and releasing water from some of its small reservoirs to account for the effects of drought in 2012, according to a release from the U.S. Water Alliance. The Corps is keeping water in the upper Missouri River instead of letting it flow into the Mississippi to maintain irrigation systems and provide for other water needs of the surrounding area.
The measures will likely reduce the amount of cargo carried by barges traveling the Mississippi, as operators have to load ships less to make them ride higher in the water. Missed deliveries of coal, chemicals and petroleum products could amount to billions in lost revenue.
A blasting project to remove rock formations that hinder barge traffic along the river is planned for areas in Southern Illinois. Officials have tried to speed up the process, with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, of Iowa, asking President Obama to issue an emergency declaration to speed up the process.
Image: A barge on the Mississippi River (Credti: Mike Willis, via Flickr)