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Two Mississippi River Mayors Head To Meeting On Health and Future Of The River

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 12 Sep 2012 04:41pm | comments
Sandbars on the Mississippi River due to low levels.

Two Mississippi mayors will join with mayors from other cities along the Mississippi river in St. Louis today to discuss the health and future of the river. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the meeting comes after historic flooding last year and near record lows this summer.

31 Mayors from all ten Mississippi River states...including the mayors of Natchez and Vicksburg...are in St. Louis today for the first ever Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.

Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield says the goal is to find ways to improve the economic and environmental conditions for towns that rely heavily on the river.

"The Mississippi river is a critical piece of the puzzle in the Vicksburg-Warren County Area. We have the 11th busiest port of the 300 inland ports in the United States. That is quite a bit of tonnage that comes through our port and directly and indirectly contributes to thousands of jobs," Winfield said.

Officials from several federal government agencies will also be attending the meeting.

Winfield says he wants to stress to how important it is to keep commerce flowing in and out of the river ports.

"It is of critical important that congress is able to fund the efforts of the levee boards and of the Corps to continue their dredging efforts," Winfield said.

The low river levels....caused by drought conditions across much of the country...has slowed traffic at the Vicksburg port.

Much of the river remains ten feet or more below normal levels and is expected to remain near record lows.

Chuck Shadie with the Mississippi River Commission says reservoirs upstream are releasing water stored up from the historic flooding last year and that should be enough to keep the river open to traffic for until November.

"We rely on Mother Nature to give us a lot of rain, or hopefully to give us more rain than she has been giving us so far. We do have a a steady flow coming out of the Missouri River at this time. They are releasing a lot of the flows that they had from the floods last year or the winters this year," Shadie said.

but without a return to more normal rain conditions this fall, Shadie warns that the river could drop further and possibly make it impossible for commercial traffic to navigate it.


Sandbars on the Mississippi River due to low levels.



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