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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
The Mississippi River continues to run low and the problem will only get worse this winter.
As of last Friday, the river stood at 2.38 feet on the Chester, Ill. gauge. It is expected to drop back below 0 feet by Dec. 12.
The low water levels may impact barge traffic and have also raised concerns about water quality.
The St. Louis Sierra Club has raised alarm over chemicals continuing to be dumped into the river, despite the decreased water volume.
A Drought Assessment Committee, comprised of state and federal agencies like the National Weather Service, will meet later this month to discuss drought concerns impacting river levels.
Naturally, the low levels keep the Ste. Genevieve-Modoc Ferry grounded.
“The ferry’s been shut down since the last week of August,” said Ronnie inman, long time manager of the ferry. “That’s a pretty long time.”
The river has been at notoriously low levels more often than not for more than a year. Inman said it has been years since he as seen such a long stretch of low water levels.
“Not for a long time, since the early eighties has it been low for this long a stretch,” Inman said.
There is concern that barge traffic may again be affected. Inman noted that there is barely seven to eight feet of water by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The US Corps of Engineers has been busy dredging trying to keep a deep enough channel for shipping to continue.
The low water level creates many problems.
“It doesn’t look good for the winter,” Inman said. “This rain (last Friday) didn’t amount to much.
“It might jump up a tenth or two or four or five. But by December it’s going to be pretty low.”