2 Dec 2012 - Keep The River Open!

Keep the river open is the message that was delivered a few days ago in a letter to President Obama, a letter from the American Waterways Operators, The Waterways Council and 16 other groups. Prior to that, the same request had gone to the White House from 15 Senators, 62 members of the House and the Governors of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

The drought impacted the nation in many ways this year, particularly in crop production, but it also lowered the water levels in that important central waterway system of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, water levels lowered to a point where there has been talk of shutting down the river between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois in December and January. That just cannot happen.

This waterway is vital, not only to agriculture, but to consumers as well, because while we ship agricultural products down the river to New Orleans for shipment to buyers around the world, those barges then bring coal, oil, petroleum products, chemicals and other products to consumers in the Heartland.

It is critical that we do not let this river system shut down and this is what the waterway users said in their letter to President Obama. They requested the President to order the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately remove river-bottom rock at two locations and requested that water releases from dams on the northern sections of the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi at St. Louis, not be reduced as planned. The Missouri River normally accounts for 60% of the water in the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. A shutdown of the waterway system in December and January would halt the flow of $7-billion worth of goods up and down the river and in the words of the operators would be “an economic catastrophe”.

For twenty years we have watched this waterway system deteriorate with Congress and the White House doing nothing to improve the locks and dams. It is time to not only take this emergency action to deal with low water levels, it is time to modernize the system to keep us competitive in the 21st Century....and Keep the River Open!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.