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USACE monitoring river levels as fall approaches

Posted on September 28, 2022

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to monitor the river levels on the Mississippi, especially with the dry conditions and the upcoming flow shifts in the fall.

The river is home to huge barge traffic throughout the country, transporting huge numbers of goods.

“There’s a huge financial engine that’s tied to the river and moving products up and down the river, and we don’t ever want to have a loss of navigation because that does impact the economy quite a bit,” Dredging Project Manager Lance Engle os the St. Louis District said. “They’re moving a lot of commodities up and down the river and that relates into thousands of trucks that are not moving products down the roads. There are huge cost saving using the waterway to move that cargo.”

The Corps of Engineers is currently working to make sure that the river navigation is ready for the lowers times of the year in November and December with dredging, and watching river conditions as dry weather continues.  The USACE dredges 3-4 million cubic yards of river every year to help maintain the navigation paths, but in drier years that number can double or triple.

“When we get into these low water periods like this or what we saw in 2012, our dredging amount can usually triple in volume or in the need,” Engle said.

The support flow from the Missouri River stops in late November, and that always causes a couple foot drop in river levels. Plus, any quick freezes can cause ice and a whole slew of problems.

That’s why communication now is so important.

“It’s imperative,” Engle said. “I think most people don’t know that dredging occurs on the the Mississippi River, and that’s probably because we do a pretty good job of communicating with our stakeholders. I can’t do my job as well without the work with other people.”

There are currently no restrictions on barge traffic on the Mississippi.


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