Nov 16 2012

Senators Blunt, Harkin & Colleagues Urge Corps To Take Immediate Action To Prevent River Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa) joined their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calling on them to take immediate action to prevent the scheduled reduction in water releases from the Missouri River.

The lawmakers also asked the Corps to remove impediments to navigation by demolishing rock pinnacles that cause navigation difficulties when the water is low. These difficulties will lead to a crisis on the Mississippi River, limiting navigation due to low water conditions.

“We are requesting immediate action to prevent an impending disruption to inland waterways navigation caused in large part by the 2012 drought particularly in the Missouri River Basin,” the Senators wrote. “The Mississippi River is vital to commerce for agriculture and many other goods, including our ability to export our goods. If the river channel is not maintained, there will be a loss of jobs, income to many businesses and farmers, and an adverse impact to the economy of the region as a whole.”

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Al Franken (Minn.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), David Vitter (La.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) also signed the letter.

To read the full letter, please see below.

November 16, 2012

The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary for Civil Works
108 Army Pentagon
Room 3E446
Washington, DC 20310-0108

Dear Secretary Darcy:

We are requesting immediate action to prevent an impending disruption to inland waterways navigation caused in large part by the 2012 drought particularly in the Missouri River Basin. A very large share of the flows into the Mississippi River at St. Louis are derived from the Missouri River. 

On or about November 23, 2012, the United States Army Corps of Engineers may begin to impound Missouri River water in accordance with the annual operating plan for the Missouri River. This action will lead to a crisis on the Mississippi River when commerce is interrupted due to low water conditions that prevent the maintenance of the congressionally-authorized 9-foot channel.

Fortunately, we understand that the Corps has the ability to remove impediments to navigation by demolishing rock pinnacles – particularly at Thebes, Illinois – in order to avert the looming crisis. We urge the Corps of Engineers to undertake this work as soon as possible. If authority can be found, we also request that the impoundment of Missouri River water be delayed until the rock work is completed so that navigation can be maintained. Our support for those flows is with an understanding that no other beneficial use would be seriously impacted and that any deficit of water for other various uses would be repaid from future navigation flows. We believe that the USACE Master Manual permits such deviations. 

The Mississippi River is vital to commerce for agriculture and many other goods, including our ability to export our goods. If the river channel is not maintained, there will be a loss of jobs, income to many businesses and farmers, and an adverse impact to the economy of the region as a whole.

We encourage you to take action to preserve this crucial artery of commerce. We appreciate your consideration of this important issue. 

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