There’ve been reports on the lower stretches of the Mississippi River that towboats were having a difficult time navigating because of shallow channels due to the low water caused by the drought. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman, Ron Fournier, says the control systems on the Iowa portion of the Mississippi help prevent such problems.

“Here in the upper Mississippi River above St. Louis, we have the lock and dam system that was built in the 1930s, and that lock and dam system is able to hold the water back and create these navigation pools, and up in this system we are not experiencing any low water problems,” according to Fournier.

He says the river is several feet lower than normal in many locations outside the navigation channels, but the barges can continue moving as they have for decades. “It’s been up and running for 80 plus years, and it has never ever not been able to maintain a channel, we have never lost a navigation channel up here in the system , and our engineers tells us that it’s nearly impossible for that to happen,” Fournier says.

Fournier says although commercial traffic has not been impacted, recreational boating has. The lower portion of the Mississippi also faces other challenges, as barge traffic near New Orleans was halted earlier this week as the storm known as Isaac bore down on the Gulf Coast.