News / USA

US Coast Guard Monitors Receding Mississippi River Levels

US Coast Guard Monitors Receding Mississippi River Levelsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Kane Farabaugh
December 17, 2012 11:56 PM
A lack of rain in the central part of the United States has created a crisis on the Mississippi River. The most important inland U.S. waterway is reaching historic low levels, which could significantly disrupt shipping. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the U.S. Coast Guard, which plays a key role in determining whether the river stays open to traffic, is keeping one eye on the receding river, and another on the skies - hoping for rain.
US Coast Guard Monitors Receding Mississippi River Levels
Kane Farabaugh
A lack of rain in the central part of the United States has created a crisis on the Mississippi River.  The most important inland U.S. waterway is reaching historic low levels, which could significantly disrupt shipping.  As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the U.S. Coast Guard, which plays a key role in determining whether the river stays open to traffic, is keeping one eye on the receding river, and another on the skies - hoping for rain.
 
Crewmembers on board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Gasconade are struggling to keep traffic flowing on the Mississippi River.
 
As the water level beneath them continues to drop, the green and red buoys they deploy to mark the shallow spots are all that stand between successful navigation of the river and disaster.
 
“As it gets narrower, there’s less room to move around, and things like wind pushing on you and the shallow water coming up it makes it very difficult," said Ryan Christensen of the U.S. Coast Guard. 
 
So difficult in fact that some barge traffic winds up stuck amid rocks or sand bars if they venture outside a 100-meter-wide, 2.7-meter-deep channel.
 
The Coast Guard’s goal is to prevent that from happening, a job Chief Ryan Christensen admits is becoming more difficult as the Mississippi recedes.
 
"I think it’s pretty tough.  There’s a lot of places where two boats can pass and now it's one way traffic that they have to choose to go through there one boat at a time," he said. 
 
Barges that make their way up and down the Mississippi River carry more than $100 billion worth of goods every year.  Any disruption has significant consequences for the U.S. economy.
 
“We move crude oil out of here, anhydrous ammonia, coal, all the grain products, all the farm products.  So yeah, this is a pretty critical waterway," he said. 
 
That critical waterway is the lifeblood of Marty Hettel’s AEP River Operations.
 
“We transport about 70-million tons of commodities on the inland waterways, with our approximately 3,250 barges," he said. 
 
The place where Hettel is standing for this interview along the Mississippi River near St. Louis is usually submerged.  He says that level will drop even further unless more water upstream is released.
 
 “About 60 percent of the water you see behind us came off the Missouri River, so as the (Army) Corps (of Engineers) cuts back the flow from the Missouri River, of course our levels in St. Louis are going to fall out," he said. 
 
But releasing more of that flow off the Missouri River is a politically and environmentally sensitive decision.  Releasing more water upstream might be a quick fix to solve some problems downstream on the Mississippi, but it could impact future water levels throughout the system, particularly without a significant amount of precipitation in the coming weeks.
 
Hettel says the alternative could be just as bad. 
 
“It’s going to stop shipping between St. Louis and Cairo (Illinois) unless something is done to augment the supply of water.  The only possibility of doing that is to get some additional releases off the Missouri River," he said. 
 
In the meantime, the U.S. Coast Guard continues to plot a course ahead, showing barges how to make their way along the troubled river, all the while hoping for rain, or snow. 

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid