The corps' current plans would stop the release of water from the Missouri River's upstream reservoirs beginning December 1, which would negatively impact the ability to navigate the Mississippi River.
"The 2012 drought has caused a significant impact on water levels on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. With the continuing and projected lack of adequate precipitation, additional barge traffic restrictions on - or even closure of - the Mississippi River channel become imminent possibilities. I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to avert potential economic disaster on this vital avenue American farmers use to get their goods into the world market,"
said in his letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army.
Under normal conditions, water from the Missouri River accounts for about 60 percent of the flow in the Mississippi River. However, because of this year's significant drought, the Mississippi River has received as much as 78 percent of its water from the Missouri River. Even with this support from the Missouri River, the low water levels in the Mississippi have forced barge operators to carry lighter loads, decreasing productivity and potentially reducing exports. Without additional and continued support, America's barge and export operations could be at risk.