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Mississippi River closes to barge traffic due to flooding

May 1, 2023   WGEM (Quincy, IL)

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Mississippi River closes to barge traffic due to flooding

WGEM – Quincy, IL – 5.1.23

By Logan Williams

With the Mississippi River continuing to rise, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made the decision to close the river to barge traffic.


The lock and dam closures in the Rock Island district run from Lock 11 through Lock 20, meaning the lock and dams from Dubuque, Iowa to Canton, Missouri are closed.


The Canton lock and dam was closed just Monday morning as the river level hit 18 feet.


The river is a critical transportation route for various products, including agricultural imports and exports, meaning these closures could lead to delays.


Roger Hugenberg, general manager of Ursa Farmers Cooperative, said the cooperative has been watching river levels and preparing for the possibility of closures.


“We’ve been shipping a lot of grain and loading out barges, so north of Lock 20, so for our Meyer facility and our Warsaw facility, it means that we will not be able to have additional empty barges come up or the barges we’ve got loaded to be able to get them into the tow to get them headed downstream,” Hugenberg said.


He said normally, flood plans call for a halt to barge loading. However, with the short flood duration, barges will still be loaded at Meyer this week and will hold until the lock and dam reopen.


The forecast short flood duration will also lead to minimized economic impacts, although Hugenberg said there is still a cost.


“Every day that we can’t load, in a market that’s worth less tomorrow means that we incur some risk. I mean we need to have our elevators emptied by the end of May. And there is a lot of grain that’s got to move. And so, any day that we can’t ship, is a day that’s going to cost us money,” Hugenberg said.


The cooperative has been reviewing flood plans with the ongoing high-water event, and Hugenberg said plans will continue to be looked over in case the water rises once again later in the year.


As of Monday afternoon, the Mississippi River at Canton is forecast to fall below 18 feet, and thus allow for the reopening of the lock and dam, as early as Monday, May 8.