U.S. Army Corps Kept Traffic Moving on Mississippi During Drought of 2012

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 12:00 am  

“We knew we didn’t have enough snow pack in the system,” he said.

The Corps started the dredging process in July and was dredging the river around the clock for seven months.

“So through a combination of river engineering and dredging and water management, we have to make sure there’s at least 9 feet of depth for navigation,” Petersen said.

The team of specialized engineers and technicians at the engineering center used models of the Mississippi River to solve a number of river engineering issues, including dredging.

“Through that process they’ve been able to come up with some innovative designs,” he said.

Those designs included arch-shaped dike structures called chevrons, which are built parallel to the flow of the river. The chevrons are similar to regular dikes and use the energy of the river to redistribute the flow of the river and the sediment. Petersen said the chevrons reduced the amount of sediment that had to be removed last year.

Gober at the Yellow Bend Port Authority said barges weren’t fully loaded for fear of running aground because of low levels on the Mississippi River.

Typically a barge for grain would be in the 2,000 ton range, but because of the river conditions, the weight on the barge’s load had to be reduced by nearly 40 percent.

Still, the Yellow Bend port saw a 25 percent increase of tonnage moved in 2012 to 250,000 tons, Gober said. He attributed the rise of tonnage to moving larger quality of grain.

Gober wouldn’t say how much income the port lost because of the low-water levels.

“Even though we’re moving larger quantities of grain, ... it’s taken us a lot longer period to do it,” he said.



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