Commerce on the Mississippi River was in jeopardy of coming to a halt late last year because of the low water levels brought on by the drought. Water levels approached an all-time low not seen since 1956. It is that concern about the ability to keep the shipping industry in business during high or low water events that has prompted bipartisan legislation in Washington, D.C.
The Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act would bolster efforts to maintain commercial river traffic during droughts and floods. Local Congressmen Rodney Davis and Bill Enyart met with America’s Central Port officials in Granite City on Wednesday to discuss the proposal to improve Mississippi River Navigation and protect jobs. Enyart, a Democrat of Belleville, says protecting and restoring fish and wildlife habitat is one key component to what they are proposing:
Other parts of the bill include giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more flexibility when servicing the shipping lanes. During the drought last year, work needed to be done outside of that channel, but the Corps was prevented from doing that. There are also provisions in the bill to update river level forecasting and to authorize a study of the river. Enyart says most of these proposals are low cost or no cost.