As long as the weather remains mild traffic on the Mississippi River will continue to flow or will it?  Remember the drought we all went through this summer?  Well, the results of that are still being felt especially on the Mighty Mississippi.  With less water flowing from tributaries into the Mississippi, the water levels are getting dangerously low and as a result, barges are now required to carry lighter loads.

The real problem in navigating the Mississippi is from St. Louis to Cairo, Illinois.  The water levels for that area are affected by the flow of water from the Missouri River into the Mississippi.  The drought has had an impact but what really is happening is the Army Corp of Engineers refusal to allow more water to be released from the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota.  It is a move to conserve water in the upper Missouri River basin, an area also affected severely by the recent drought.

According to an article written by Jim Salter and Jim Suhr and published in Sunday’s Quincy Herald Whig, The Corps has no choice but to reduce the flow from the dam because of a congressionally authorized document called the Missouri River Master Manual.  This manual was enacted ten years ago and it requires the Corps to protect the Upper Missouri River basin despite the ramifications of what might happen downstream, with downstream being the Mississippi River in this case.

Unless something changes and changes quickly, look for barge traffic to be halted which would force cause a huge economic concern.  Jobs would be lost, fuel costs would rise, and food supplies would be diminished.  The ripple effect on the rest of the country will also be felt. Pray for rain and a lot of it.  Not only around the Mississippi River, but also along the Missouri River as well .