Barge operators: Send us some rain!
October 30, 2012
bad the East Coast couldn’t send some of Hurricane Sandy’s water to the
drought-weary Midwest. Barge traffic on the Mississippi River, especially
around St. Louis, could use some help straight through to next year.
National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s recent outlook showed that
the drought would linger for much of the Midwest and mountain states through
Jan. 31. The outlook also said to expect some improvement in Illinois,
Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas along the Mississippi.
especially worrisome part for barge traffic is the stretch between St. Louis
and Cairo, Ill. “We’re going to be in a bad place in December unless we start
getting rain,” said Lynn Muench of the American
Waterways Operators. Drafts may need to be as shallow as 5’6” to 6’ instead
of the current drought-induced 9’6”.
Army Corps of Engineers typically reduces flows from the Missouri River in
December. There’s little hope that might change.
Missouri River is not authorized to provide navigation for the Mississippi
River,” said Corps spokesman Romanda Walker. “We are looking at other options
for dredging or removing rocks to help keep the river open.”
more, the Missouri basin is having drought problems of its own. September saw
record low inflows of just under 0.3 million-acre feet into the main reservoir
system, compared to the previous record of 0.4 million feet in 1919, the Corps
said. Missouri River basin records go back to 1898.
December through February at Gavins Point reservoir near Yankton, S.D.,
releases will be 12,000-cu.-ft. per second versus 17,000 cfs when reservoirs
likely, we will begin the 2013 navigation season with reduced navigation flow support,”
Jody Farhat, chief of the Missouri Water Management Division, said in a statement.
like Kirby Corp., the giant Houston-based
tank barge operator, are well aware of the reduced flows. During a third-quarter
earnings call last week, CEO Joe Pyne noted the potential problem. “There are a
number of things that can be done, and I think that the industry and the Corps
are looking at all of them.”
he said, “it would all go away if it would just rain.”