Murray sportsman and Murray Ledger & Times writer Kenny Darnell visits Sounds Good to speak with Chad Lampe about Kentucky turkey harvest success this year, and the decline in the Purchase Region. Also, he speaks about issues for boaters and fishermen regarding Kentucky Lake water levels and the new processing facility for Asian carp in our region.
Mississippi River shippers say they're returning to handling full loads because the drought-ravaged waterway has benefited from winter storms and aggressive rock-clearing.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard say the crisis is over with water levels rising and rocks cleared to deepen the channel. The corps recently removed riverbed rocks from a treacherous stretch south of St. Louis, and it says recent snow and rain have helped raise the Mississippi.
This weekend’s rainfall has briefly alleviated dropping water levels on the Mississippi River, but it didn't put a dent in persisting drought conditions in the area. National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Smith says most places in western Kentucky got 4 to 5 inches but they are still up to 20 inches below average rainfall. The Mississippi River levels are between 12 and 13 feet but Smith expects those levels to drop back to 5 feet in just a few weeks.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is urging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to sponsor and pass legislation that would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from the Missouri River to raise levels on the Mississippi. Drought conditions there could soon halt barge traffic. Beshear sent a letter to McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul Wednesday asking them to take action quickly. If the Mississippi continues to drop there could be negative economic consequences.
A new National Weather Service forecast projects water levels on the Mississippi River will keep dropping over the next several weeks. The outlook comes amid worries barge traffic could soon be affected along the vital shipping corridor. NWS hydrologists say the Mississippi River at Saint Louis will fall to about 9 feet by the end of December, and, barring significant rainfall, another six inches in the first week of January. Months of drought have left levels up to 20 feet below normal along a 180-mile stretch of the river from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill.
Two river navigation trade associations say the Army Corps of Engineers will blow up rock outcrops on the Mississippi River next week. The rock pinnacles in Thebes, Ill., could block river traffic after Christmas if water levels continue to fall. The rock removal is a half-victory for barge companies, who also want the Corps to release water from Missouri River reservoirs.
American Waterways Operators spokesperson Ann McColloch says the rock blasting project is welcome news, but adds the work will take an extended period of time.
A top Army Corps of Engineers official says an updated forecast means it’s unlikely the lower Mississippi River will close to shipping. Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy tells interested state lawmakers the agency won't scale back the amount of Missouri River water it began withholding last month from the Mississippi. Lawmakers and the barge industry had sought the extra water to prevent a shipping crisis.
Kentucky U. S. Congressman Ed Whitfield has joined those calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to increase water flow on the Mississippi River. The Corps has reduced flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi to preserve water reservoirs.