Officials plead for more water in river; Corps hiring more workers

MISSISSIPPI RIVER — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and the barge industry are imploring the federal government to keep water flowing on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers or face potential “economic disaster.”

The nearly year-long drought has left many waterways at historic lows. Nixon sent a letter urging the Army Corps of Engineers to rethink plans to stop the release of water from the Missouri’s upstream reservoirs beginning Dec. 1. That would also reduce flow on the Mississippi since the Missouri merges into the Mississippi.

Nixon says the move could create an “economic disaster.” Meanwhile, the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council last week urged Congress and President Barack Obama to act to keep the water flowing.

Messages left with the Corps were not immediately returned.

In a separate item, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District Mat Sinking Unit (MSU) is currently working on the Mississippi River near Blackhawk, La., on river mile 328.

Thus far this season the MSU has placed 229,405 squares or approximately 527 acres of articulated concrete mats on the banks of the Mississippi River. The goal for this six-month revetment season is to place 442,786 squares covering approximately 1,018 acres. The next location for the MSU is mile 225 near Arlington, La.

This revetment season may extend through February 2013 and includes a larger than normal program that requires critical repairs to sites damaged as a result of the 2011 historic flood. Due to this longer than normal season, an additional 90 jobs may be required for temporary positions, beginning December 2012.

Mat sinking is seasonal work where employees live and dine on the quarter boats that tie off to the bank near the work area. They work in shifts and perform one of the most important jobs in the Corps of Engineers river stabilization program.

The MSU is the only one of its kind in the world and consists of the Motor Vessel Benyaurd with the quarter boats, the Motor Vessel William James with the mat sinking plant and the Motor Vessel Harrison which all work together to distribute articulated concrete mat squares on the banks of waterways. These concrete mats assist with the prevention of erosion and to protect submerged river banks. The scope of work encompasses three Corps’ districts, seven states and multiple watersheds, and utilizes proven technology in river engineering and operations.

 

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