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The Illinois River to the Rescue?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I mentioned the low levels of the Mississippi River being a problem for shipping especially south of the St. Louis area.  It’s so bad that the Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing rock blasting in the channel of the river south of the Gateway City.

The hope was that water from the upper Missouri River basin would be released to flow into the Mississippi.  By law, the Corps hands were tied and the water could not be released to help the flow problem on the Mississippi. So the decision was to deepen the current channel by blasting rock beneath it.

This all made me wonder about something. The Missouri River is not the only river that flows into the Mississippi near St. Louis. So does the Illinois River. So can someone explain to me why there has been no thought to increasing the flow of the Illinois River to help alleviate the problem? Why can’t we use water from Lake Michigan through the Chicago River and then through the canal system which attaches to the Illinois River to flow down to the Mississippi? Am I missing something here?

I would think Lake Michigan would have enough reserve to spare the Mighty Mississippi a few billion drops. This just seems to make sense so maybe that’s why no one is talking about it.

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