Recent Drought Conditions Underscore Importance of Missouri River to Maintaining Navigation on Mississippi River

NWC Supports Measures to Ensure Waterborne Commerce Can Continue

National Waterways Conference News Release
9 November 2012

Amy W. Larson, Esq., President
National Waterways Conference, Inc.
Office:  703-224-8007
Fax:  866-371-1390
Contact:  Carole Wright  , 703-224-8007  

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Waterways Conference, Inc., whose membership includes the many diverse groups that depend on the waterways for sound and efficient transportation, as well as water supply, hydropower and flood control, is urging action to address a developing situation on the nation’s waterways which could significantly impact the critical flow of commerce on the Mississippi River.  

Over the last several months, goods have continued to move on the Mississippi River, despite the near record low water levels, as barge operators have significantly reduced the amount of cargo carried as well as the size of their tows to better navigate the shallow water.  The shippers who move cargo on the waterways, as well as the barge operators, have been working very closely with government officials on a daily basis to monitor river conditions and ensure that products can continue to use this economically and environmentally sound mode of transport.

Beginning later this month, water releases on the upper Missouri River are expected to be significantly scaled back, severely reducing the water level on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cairo, IL by mid-December.  As a consequence, transport of essential commodities for domestic use as well as export could cease along the Mississippi River, resulting in significant economic harm to the nation.    

“It is critical that the Missouri River be managed in full awareness of its contributions to Mississippi River navigation and the national economic benefits that result from it,” said Amy Larson, NWC President.  “Balancing the many different needs of the users of the nation’s lakes and rivers is never an easy proposition,” Larson continued.  “Our membership, in particular, is sensitive to the many different interests that depend on the river. We will work with our navigation partners in support of a solution that ensures the continued movement of goods on our nation’s waterways, recognizing the multiple beneficiaries of this scarce resource.

The National Waterways Conference, established in 1960, is dedicated to a greater understanding of the widespread public benefits of our nation’s water resources infrastructure.  Our mission is to effect common sense policies and programs, recognizing the public value of our nation’s water resources and their contribution to public safety, a competitive economy, national security, environmental quality and energy conservation.  Conference membership is comprised of the full spectrum of water resources stakeholders, including flood control associations, levee boards, waterways shippers and carriers, industry and regional associations, port authorities, shipyards, dredging contractors, regional water supply districts, engineering consultants, and state and local governments.