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Sun Dec 23, 2012, 02:58 PM

Drought Threatens Shipping on Mississippi River

Source: NYT

The Mississippi River is still open for business — for now. January is another story.

A Midwestern drought has brought the river to water levels so low that that they threaten to shut down shipping on one of the world’s largest navigable inland waterways. The Mississippi, which carries some $7 billion in trade in a typical December and January, is expected to be closed to navigation between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill., when water levels dip toward the nine feet of depth necessary for most tugboats to clear the bottom.

Those who ship goods up and down the river have asked the federal government to do two things: to destroy rock formations known as pinnacles in Southern Illinois that hinder navigation when the water is shallow, and to release more water from reservoirs along the upper Missouri River.

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun meeting the first request, using excavating equipment to break down the formations. Officials said the work should take 30 to 45 days.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/us/drought-threatens-shipping-on-mississippi-river.html

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 03:08 PM

1. The Mississippi River needs to be maintained & kept open.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 03:32 PM

2. Why am I suspect of potential "silica sand mining" or other reasons to destroy the rock formations?

I think they need to plant more trees along the banks and curtail all of the development as well as reassess the damming, etc.....

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Response to glinda (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 09:47 PM

11. The "Pinnacles" at Thebes

Referred to in the article are just some underwater high spots most of which were already blasted out 20 years ago. But the water levels now have reached such a critically low stage that they are becoming problematic again. They are unrelated to "silica sand mining" - they are limestone.

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Response to unterrified democrat (Reply #11)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 12:01 AM

14. OHHHHHHH! Actually the Mississippi River in St. cloud MN is so low I think

one can nearly walk across it now. Am sure not since there may be a drop off or two but lots of rocks are showing.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 03:47 PM

3. I would suggest coming up with alternative methods to ship their goods. This isn't going to be

a problem that disappears. Water's going to be too important to give up to a river just for floating boats. Maybe more rail?

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Response to bloomington-lib (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 09:39 PM

10. Shipping products by barge is THE GREENEST method hands down.

Every fully loaded barge carries 150 semi-loads, they carry 30 to 35 loaded barges south at a time. That's what, 4,500 to 5,000 semis not on the interstate per trip. A tow boat can haul a ton of freight as much as 2,000 miles on a gallon of fuel.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 04:51 PM

4. This is more dangerous to the US than any terrorist.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 05:08 PM

5. Let the river follow the course it wants

It wants to flow down the Atchafalaya and we spend billions to keep New Orleans a port.

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Response to tabasco (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 08:01 PM

7. The main problem is lack of water flow altogether

Allowing the river to run it's natural course doesn't really address that. The Army Corp. of Engineers has shut every dam they can find in the northern plains states to conserve water for spring and summer irrigation, because everyone paying attention to the water situation now knows that, short of torrential rains in the spring, we're in for another year of crippling drought in the nation's breadbasket. Due to global warming, we may now be entering a period of persistent drought conditions, or at least much more frequent drought years than we used to have.

We now get to make the awful decision about whether we use the water we have to support the economy now, or save it to grow food later.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 01:27 AM

16. Persistent Drought, perhaps

But persistent floods just as likely. The river gage at Memphis recently dipped to -8 feet. 18 months ago it was 56 feet higher... the highest water since the Great Flood of 1927. You didn't hear much about it because "big government" had the resources - and the will - to build a levee system after the '27 flood. It was the biggest earth moving project on the planet, bigger than The Great Wall of China! Sometimes, when the right people are in charge the government does the right thing.

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Response to tabasco (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 09:30 PM

9. The "Billions" have already been spent.

The Old River Control Structure was built to re-establish the equilibrium that was disturbed when Shreve dismantled the Great Red River Raft in the 19th century. Allowing the Mississippi to flow down the Atchafalaya basin would turn New Orleans into a salt water back water and render one of America's greatest ports ineffective.

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Response to unterrified democrat (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 10:57 PM

13. But it's what Mother Nature "wants".

/s

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Response to Hosnon (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 01:16 AM

15. Mother Nature wants

fuel efficient shipping, the more fuel efficiency the less atmospheric greenhouse inducing carbon build-up.It's not the nineteenth century anymore, the control structure has been built. It would be far more disruptive to remove it at this point. And the Atchafalaya basin swamp lands would be quickly eroded leading to a whole different set of eco-system failures.

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Response to Hosnon (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 03:57 PM

18. Well, if she is the one who controls geology and river morphology,

I suppose you're right.

The Corps’ war on water consisted of throwing a dam across the Old River, then building, 10 miles upstream, a 560-foot-long set of 11 floodgates across an artificial channel that henceforth would bend the Father of Waters to the will of the United States Congress. That body declared it illegal for the Mississippi to yield more than 30 per cent of its flow to the Atchafalaya. That is how much it gave up in 1950, and by law, for the Mississippi, it was to be forever 1950. The implementation of the law began in 1963, when the Control Structures took over. It was all part of the Corps of Engineers’ “Mississippi River and Tributaries Project” — the war to end all floods for all time from Cairo, Illinois, to New Orleans.

Ten quiet years followed, for which the Corps took a great deal of credit. Then came a most unquiet year, when a combination of heavy rains in the fall of 1972, heavy winter snow and repeated deluges in the spring of 1973 brought massive flooding. The Corps ran up the white flag and opened all the floodgates at Old River, and still, day after day, the Father of Waters hammered on the bars of its cell, shook the structure as if it were in a Magnitude 8 earthquake, threw nine-ton boulders at it and ate away at its massive foundations. If you stopped a car on top of the control structure (yes, there’s a road – Route 15 – across what you might call the bridge to San Luis Rey, Louisiana) and opened the car door, the vibration of the structure would slam it shut. One of the massive walls that gathered the flow of the Mississippi in to the floodgates collapsed. When the whole thing was a whisker away from total failure, the waters began to recede.

Afterward, the badly frightened engineers of the Corps wondered how close it had been. As John McPhee described one of the more riveting moments in the long history of man’s war on nature:

“As soon as the water began to recede they set about learning the dimensions of the damage. The structure was obviously undermined, but how much so, and where? What was solid, what was not? What was directly below the gates and the roadway? With a diamond drill, in a central position, they bored the first of many holes in the structure. When they had penetrated to basal levels, they lowered a television camera into the hole. They saw fish.”

The Corps propped the structure up, poured more concrete, set more pilings, built even more floodgates (the so-called auxiliary structure, deployed in 1986) and saw it withstand major flooding in 1983, 1993 and 1997. But the river will win this war, and will go to Morgan City, and bring down the Control Structures and with them the economy of the United States. As a study conducted by the Water Resources Research Institute, at Louisiana State University, concluded: “It could happen next year, during the next decade, or sometime in the next thirty or forty years. But the final outcome is simply a matter of time and it is only prudent to prepare for it.”


http://www.dailyimpact.net/2011/04/28/mississippi-rising-apocalypse-now/

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Response to unterrified democrat (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:49 PM

17. I'm sorry, but New Orleans is fucked

It goes underwater with every storm and goes dry with every drought.

US taxpayers spend billions to maintain this one city, as the citizens of Louisiana condemn "big government."

The ORCS WILL fail someday and requires massive, costly maintenance.

The intelligent thing to do is a gradual relocation, before a disaster happens. It will be costly, but the Corps of Engineers will no longer be fighting the largest river in the USA.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 07:53 PM

6. wait ... the Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for dredging the Mississippi

for COMMERCE? I thought "privatization" was supposed to be better than "big gummit" doing things ... why doesn't the "private sector" do it?

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Response to zbdent (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 09:54 PM

12. The Inland Transportation Industry

subsidizes the work the Army Corps does on the rivers just as the trucking industry does the highways. All diesel fuel destined for the Marine Industry is dyed to prevent the use of untaxed fuel. More towboats = less carbon.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 08:56 PM

8. Global Warming

 

They're going to have to get used to it. Apparently the powers that be don't care much.

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