Around 100 Barges/Vessels Still Stranded as Mississippi River Drought Continues

Published Aug 22, 2012 11:38 AM by The Maritime Executive

Although the U.S. Coast Guard recently re-opened an 11-mile expanse on the Mississippi River for limited use, the amount of stranded barges and vessels has increased due to the extremely low levels of water.

Five southbound vessels were able to pass near Greenville, Mississippi later in the day on Tuesday. A limited number of northbound vessels with a draft of no more than 9 feet were being allowed to travel overnight into Wednesday, according to CNN. Around 40 northbound vessels and 57 southbound vessels were waiting for passage.

Vessel traffic was halted at the week’s beginning due to low water levels, idling 97 boats and barges. That amount increased to nearly 115 on Tuesday. This same area near Greenville, which sees about 50 vessels pass on a daily average, has been closed sporadically for about 10 days when a vessel ran aground. Officials confirm that this is definitely a possible site for more groundings.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been dredging locally to deepen the channel and aid in navigation. The Coast Guard is continually working to minimize the delay as much as possible and to get the affected vessels moving again, mainly by surveying for dredging and replacing eight navigation markers. It is still unclear when the river will reopen.

A historic drought has reduced water levels drastically throughout wide sections of the U.S. Midwest. Flooding last year may have worsened the situation on the Mississippi by leaving deposits of silt and debris in areas that would normally be clear.

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