Mississippi River Levels Rise Slowly

Mar 15, 2013

Water levels on the Mississippi are rising —thanks to snow melts and recent precipitation
Credit Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio.

It got pretty shaky there for a bit, as river levels fell dangerously low, slowing down barge traffic essential to exporting Iowa’s grain crops. Mike Peterson with the Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis says they were able to keep boats moving until mother nature stepped in to make the Mississippi navigable again. 

"I think it’s a source of relief for a lot of folks in the Corps, the Coast Guard and the river industry." 

Peterson says emergency action like dredging helped and he says for now water levels have normalized.  Soy Transportation Coalition's Executive Director Mike Steenhoek represents those who depend on the river for their industry. He says while the crucial season for exporting soybeans has past—he hopes the Corps will learn from this experience. 

"If there is a silver lining to this, it did awaken a lot of people to the importance of our inland waterways for the US economy, for agriculture. It’s often a forgotten highway."

Steenhoek says they will be looking for better ways to prepare for another season of drought. In Des Moines, I’m Sandhya Dirks, Iowa Public Radio News.