River Level Down
The Interstate Marine Terminal sits by the Missouri River and normally ships fertilizer and sand to port by barge. But this year it's shipping by train and truck, which costs a lot more.
"No barge traffic, low river levels, can't make any money," temporary dock manager Walter Meyer said.
The river levels are low because the Army Corps of Engineers slowed the flow of water from reservoirs. This shortens the season when the river is deep enough to use barges. Normally the barge season ends Dec. 1, but this year it ended on Oct. 14th, a record 48 days early.
"As far as the river staying this low constantly, this is the lowest I've ever seen it in my entire life along the river," Meyer said.
That's because the past few years of drought only half filled reservoirs.
"The reservoirs themselves are at record lows, and that's a continuing concern," Chief of Water Resources Mike Wells said.
Consumers may also be affected. They could see additional costs because of the extra effort needed to extract drinking water and other utilities supplied by the river.
"It affects everyone, but right now, this time of year, it's probably not having as much of an impact on other users as it does the navigation industry and the shippers," said Wells.
Another short navigation season is expected next year. That means the barges of Interstate Marine Terminal will sit a while longer.
The navigation season is one of the topics the Army Corps of Engineers will discuss at it's public meeting at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday in the Capital Plaza.