Mississippi River levels are on the rise, thanks to all of the recent precipitation. Mike Peterson, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says it’s a welcome turnaround after more than a year of drought conditions and extremely low river levels on the Mississippi.
“It got a little shaky there as far as being able to keep commerce moving but we were able to keep the navigation channel open and now we are seeing the result of a lot of snow melt and rain coming down from up north,” Peterson says. “We’ve actually jumped from close to zero on the St. Louis gauge. We’re up at about 25 feet today.”
While the river may look high, Peterson says that’s only in contrast to how low it’s been. Many people are gratified to see the rise in levels. Peterson says, “I think it’s a sense of relief for a lot of folks in the Corps, the Coast Guard and the river industry.”
Peterson says they will be keeping close watch on the river, as the drought isn’t gone and neither are concerns about commerce. A lot of agriculture depends on the Mississippi to export goods.
Peterson says emergency action like dredging helped the situation. Mike Steenhoek, spokesman for the Soy Transportation Coalition, says while the crucial season for exporting soybeans has passed, he hopes the Corps has learned from this drought experience.
Steenhoek says, “If there is a silver lining to this, it did awaken a lot of people to the importance of our inland waterways for the U.S. economy, for agriculture. It’s often a forgotten highway.” He says they will be looking for better ways to prepare for another season of drought.