MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Memphis and the Mid-South are facing a second consecutive year of historic low water levels on the Mississippi River with minimal rainfall in the forecast to provide any relief.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in Memphis on Wednesday they have a plan of action.
“We know low water is here to stay for a while,” said Col. Brian D. Sawser with the USACE.
The record low-water is impacting navigation, commerce, barge traffic and farmers.
“The approximate value of these good and commodities that move up and down the Missisippi River is just short of $200 billion annually,” said Zack Cook, River Improvement Manager with USACE.
The low water is almost a repeat performance of what many saw in 2022, when hundreds of barges sat idle along the river because of shallow water.
“I think the good news is, we had almost a game plan from seeing this happen last year,” said Donny Davidson, Chief Civilian Deputy with USACE. “Usually we’d count on this happening about every decade, but not back to back.”
The Corps of Engineers says it is addressing plans to keep the navigation channel safe, open and commerce moving on the river with routine dredges, removing sediment and debris from the riverbed.
“We will bring in dredges to remove that sediment to a different portion of the river to reopen that channel, the highway, if you will,” Sawser said.
For now, the Mississippi River, one of the key trade routes in the country, apparently won’t see any major relief any time soon from Mother Nature, but the Corps of Engineers says it’ll be there to lend a hand.
“We are making the mission happen. I’m not saying it doesn’t come with challenges. I’m not saying there are not economic effects, but the river is still open for business,” Sawser said.