Corps to Raise Missouri River Flows, But Mississippi River Likely Won’t Benefit
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is increasing Missouri River flows from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota instead of cutting back. According to Jody Farhat with the Army Corps Missouri River Basin Water Management Division in Omaha - several water intakes along the lower river are within inches of their critical shutoff elevations. With colder weather moving into the basin - there's concern that building ice will reduce the stages downstream. The releases from Gavins Point will increase to 18-thousand cubic feet per second today (Thursday) - up from 14-thousand cubic feet per second. Governors, lawmakers and farm groups had been asking the Corps to boost Missouri River levels to bring up the Mississippi River's levels - but Farhat says these releases will not have any impact on the near-record low Mississippi River. According to Farhat - this additional water isn't expected to make its way to the Mississippi until the ice melts in the spring. She says the increased release is meant to replace the water that will be lost to ice over the next couple of weeks.
But the Corps is taking action in an effort to keep the Mississippi River open for barge traffic. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will jackhammer submerged rock obstacles south of St. Louis that hinder passage in the low-level Mississippi. With water levels falling - the rocks are dangerous obstacles to vessels that move grain on the nation's busiest waterway. Barges had already reduced loads in an effort to avoid hitting the so-called pinnacles.
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