Mississippi River Dredging Project Keeps River Open During Drought
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Mississippi River Dredging Project Keeps River Open During Drought

The rough Mississippi River, a vital waterway for commerce and farmers, is at dangerously low water levels for the second year in a row due to a prolonged drought.

Authorities are doing everything in their power to ensure that the Mississippi River remains navigable, and it is at this time that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ skip dredge Hurley comes into play.

The dredge is currently on its third excavation at the same site near Memphis, Tennessee, scraping and sucking silt from the bottom of the river and spraying it onto the riverbanks.

“We’ve been working almost non-stop since last fall, from New Orleans to St. Louis, Missouri,” said Captain Adrian Pirani, standing on the bridge.

Mississippi River Dredging Project Keeps River Open During Drought

“We work long hours,” Pirani said, “first and foremost to make sure commerce doesn’t stop.” But this job is closer to home. I come from a family of farmers across the river. So it’s a bit personal for me ……. I’ll do what I can to keep the river flowing.

The Mississippi River is an integral part of the transportation network for farmers across a wide swath of the Midwestern United States. But drought has caused the river to narrow and shallow, limiting transportation capacity.

The bottleneck comes at a bad time: in early fall, farmers are busy harvesting soybeans and corn. With limited inland waterway capacity, they had to scramble to get rid of large backlogs of stock.

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