ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and the barge industry are imploring the federal government to take steps to keep enough water flowing on the drought-ridden Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to avert a potential “economic disaster.”
Nixon has sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army, urging the Army Corps of Engineers to continue providing sufficient water flow from the Missouri to the Mississippi River. Current corps plans would reduce the amount of water released from the Missouri's upstream reservoirs starting next week.
“I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to avert potential economic disaster on this vital avenue American farmers use to get their goods into the world market,” Nixon wrote to Darcy.
Meanwhile, the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council last week urged Congress and President Barack Obama to act or potentially see a halt to the transportation of millions of tons of essential goods up and down the Mississippi.
The corps' offices were closed Monday for Veterans Day, and messages seeking comment were not returned. That agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and other river interests have scheduled a press conference for Friday in St. Louis to discuss the outlook for the Mississippi.
The corps said last week that the flow reduction to minimum winter levels is the first of several conservation measures necessary if drought conditions continue into 2013. The agency said precipitation levels are below normal over the entire Missouri River basin.
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