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Wet Spring Brings Problems to Mississippi River Barges

Updated: 08/03/2014 10:49 PM
Created: 08/03/2014 6:27 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- In Winona and Wabasha, some 17 tow boats and over 150 barges have stopped delivering some everyday materials, due to a record amount of sediment and soil build-up on the bottom of the Mississippi River from Minnesota’s second wettest spring on record.

"It's going to be your bulk commodities like coal and cement," said George Stringham from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But the flow of traffic in the Mississippi River in those two areas will return a couple days earlier than thought. Re-opening the river for barge traffic in Wabasha and downstream Winona is on a faster schedule than originally planned. Instead of August 10th, normal traffic is expected to be back by August 8th.

"To have a main channel closed down for a significant period of time, I'm sure it will affect their business,” said Winona resident and museum curator Jon Swanson.

The posts in Wabasha and downstream Winona are no longer the only focus areas. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also dredging up blockades of sediment near Red Wing, northern Iowa, and west-central Wisconsin.

"We have people who have worked in the core since the late 1980's and they've never seen it where they've had so much sedimentation brought in that it shuts down large stretches of river like it did this time," said Stringham.

At Reads Landing in Wabasha, an area right along the Mississippi River, there's a sediment drop off that's quickly building in size. It's basically where excess soil is stored after it's removed.

"There’s basically a large pump on the dredge boats that suck the sediment out," explained Stringham.

They're ahead of schedule, but officials emphasize that there's still a lot more to be done to remove those caps that can potentially choke the momentum of the economy.

In Winona and Wabasha, some 17 tow boats and over 150 barges have stopped delivering some everyday materials, due to a record amount of sediment and soil build-up on the bottom of the Mississippi River from Minnesota’s second wettest spring on record.


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