Locks 16, 17 Closed; Corps Maintaining High-Water Measures

As a crest of high water moved downriver on the Upper Mississippi River, Locks 16 and 17 were temporarily closed. Lock 16 went out of service on April 8; according to the lockmaster, the closure will last until 7 a.m.  April 15.Lock 17 was scheduled to be closed April 10, with a reopening date not set at WJ press time.

Lock and Dam 16 is located near Muscatine, Iowa, at Mississippi River Mile 457.2.  Lock and Dam 17 is located at Mile 437 near New Boston, Ill.Unless high rainfall or accelerated snowmelt changes the picture, the Upper Mississippi should drop below flood stage after this crest passes through. According to the Lacrosse, Wis., station of the National Weather Service, the river above Winona, Minn., has dropped below flood stage, but areas below it remained at or near the lowest level of flood alert.

Corps Holds Webinars

The Corps of Engineers held two online webinars April 9 to reassure the public that it is continuing its regular mission of monitoring high water, despite the extra challenges from the coronavirus crisis. More than 132 people attended online.

At the afternoon WebEx event, R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army-civil works, thanked Corps personnel, and he singled out Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, chief of engineers, for his leadership role in the Corps’ response to the crisis. James remarked that his grandfather lost family members in the 1918 flu pandemic and often spoke about it.

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Christine Altdorf, chief of engineering and construction at the Corps, said, “The Corps is accustomed to dealing with emergencies,” and noted that it is currently engaged in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. Corps engineers are working with states on conceptual designs for converting hotels, arenas and other venues to temporary hospitals. In some cases the Corps is doing the work itself; in others the states are taking it on, calling on the Corps for technical advice and expertise.

Altdorf said 830 projects have been completed out a total of 914 requested by the states. The Corps has so far awarded 713 contracts representing 14,000 additional hospital beds.

Meg Gaffney-Smith, deputy chief-operations and regulatory division at Corps headquarters, said she wants industry and the public to know that the Corps is continuing its other mission-critical functions. “We are continuing to monitor locks and dams and critical infrastructure,” she told attendees.