A shorter navigation season expected for MO River
The Army Corps of Engineers says the flow of the Missouri River is expected to remain at minimal levels throughout the year, which could slow movement of ag products like fertilizer and commodities.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources Director Dru Buntin tells Brownfield the amount of water available in reservoirs will determine how much shorter the navigation season will be for the Missouri River this year.
“Typically the navigation season along the Missouri will go into December. Based on storage levels, there will be a week shortening. This year, it was a week or two, a matter of days, in terms of that shortening.”
When the Army Corps of Engineers shuts down flows along the Missouri River to help improve navigation, Buntin says this also impacts navigation on the lower Mississippi River especially between St. Louis and the Ohio River confluence.
“When we’re in drought, up to 60% or 70% of the water in the Mississippi River is coming from the Missouri River.”
Buntin says a subgroup of the Missouri Drought Assessment Committee continues to monitor the lower river levels and find ways to help ensure smooth barge movement.
“Knowing exact depth and where that channel is located is important. Some of that conversation led to the state for advocating for more resources to invest in navigation markers so there’s an accurate understanding of where the channel is located.”
He says it will take time to recover from the drought and additional moisture is still needed. As of early February, more than half of Missouri remains dry.