Lt. Gov.: Federal intervention needed to preserve Mississippi River commerce

Online Staff Report

CARLYLE, Ill. — At a quarterly meeting of the Mississippi River Coordinating Council Friday, Dec. 7, Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D) will call for federal intervention to address dropping water levels in the Mississippi River.

The water level from St. Louis to Cairo is at record-low levels and risks being impassable by barges.

The Mississippi River is a vital economic resource, allowing goods to be transported around the country,” Simon said. “Already, barges are being forced to carry lighter loads, and unless we work together on a solution, barge traffic will halt completely.”

Mississippi River levels — already low following the 2012 drought — are continuing to drop as a result of reduced flows from the Missouri River. Continued drop in water levels will expose rock pinnacles in southern Illinois, which will limit or even halt barge traffic along the river.

Simon, as well as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), Navistar, Caterpillar, ADM, Great Lakes Dredge and Docks, and others have appealed to the federal government for assistance that will keep the river open.

According to the American Waterways Operators, a potential closure preventing barges from transporting goods would jeopardize $7 billion in products during December and January alone.

Simon is chairman of the Mississippi River Coordinating Council, composed of a diverse group of citizens, not-for-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies. The council coordinates initiatives, projects and funding to promote the ecological health of the Mississippi River and its tributaries by addressing the issues in the watershed.

The council’s quarterly meeting will be at 1:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at Carlyle Lake Visitors Center, 801 Lake Road, Carlyle, Ill.

Posted Dec. 5, 2012

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