Mississippi River Levels: Not a matter of if it happens again but when

Levels on the Mississippi River have improved, but we’re not in the clear just yet.

Despite some slight improvements on inland waterways over the last few weeks, the American Waterways Operators says barge capacity along the Mississippi River is still down 25 to 35 percent since early November.

The group says we need to be prepared for not if this happens again but when.

“Without rain, we’re just going to need more dredges everywhere. The other thing that needs to happen is that the Coast Guard needs to mark the channel carefully because it’s getting narrower and so if we can’t stay in the channel, then you have groundings and you shut the river down, which has happened several times. They’re working with equipment that’s 50, 60, and 70 years old. We really need Congress to look seriously at making sure we have new cutters and new dredges so that when this happens again because it will, we’re properly equipped to manage the river,” said Lynn Muench.

The group says when one of these barges loses an inch of draft, that is equivalent to about a semi-truck load of product, which they say can quickly add up, especially when barges have recently lost up to three feet of draft due to low water levels.