River Traffic Normal In St. Louis District

As Mississippi River levels drop, the St. Louis Engineer District is keeping an eye on conditions, but there are no tow restrictions yet. While there have been reports of low water causing some issues in the lower reaches of the Mississippi River, the St. Louis Engineer District reports normal traffic. 

According to Lance Engle, dredging project manager for the St. Louis District, there are no tow restrictions in St. Louis Harbor expected anytime soon, even though the gauge reads negative 0.7 feet. 

The part of the river near Thebes, Ill., between Upper Mississippi Miles 46 and 38, south of St. Louis, where rock pinnacles have been dynamited, is being reviewed. “We may run detailed multibeam surveys to verify conditions,” Engle said. But “rock pinnacles in Thebes were removed to allow 9-foot depth at a negative 0.7 gauge reading in St. Louis.”

If the low water continues, at what point will restrictions be put in place? “This will be a group decision between the Corps, U.S. Coast Guard and industry,” Engle said. “The Waterway Action Plan has recommendations for restrictions, and [these] are used as a checkpoint and weighed against current condition. I believe dredging operations are keeping up with the falling river. The lowest we got was about -4.5 in 2012-13, so going below that will be levels not experienced since the 1988-89 drought.”

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Engle added he had heard no reports of groundings in the navigation channel in the St. Louis District, but added, “There have been some out-of-channel groundings in fleeting areas, which is not uncommon.”