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Drought Exposing Problems in the Mississippi


The Illinois Corn Growers Association is calling for immediate action to keep the traffic moving on the Mississippi river.
The river has dropped because of this summer’s drought.  The group said that this is exposing underwater obstacles which are preventing barges from transporting goods along the river.
The association named two rock outcroppings, or pinnacles, south of St. Louis as the most problematic.  One is near Thebes, Illinois while the other is near Grand Tower, Illinois.
        Board member Rod Weinzierl said the Army Corps of Engineers has the money to remove the rocks but is claiming that procedural delays are keeping them from starting the blasting.
Weinzerl said a presidential disaster declaration would allow the corps to begin work immediately. He added that while the pinnacles are being removed the corps should allow water from the Missouri River to flow into the Mississippi.

The blasting would allow for two foot deeper shipping channel in those areas which should alleviate the problems caused by the drought.
“If it continues to not rain we are still going to have problems,” Weinzerl said, “but at that point in time we understand that you can’t just keep removing water from the reservoirs, that are actually stationed in the Dakotas and Montana, because of the other needs for water in that region of that country.”
Weinzerl said that the water from the Missouri River is “Band-Aid” and not a permanent solution.
He added that if the barges have to remain docked, companies will have to start laying off workers and the disruption could prevent fertilizer from getting where it needs to go this winter.  This would affect the spring planting season.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.