The summer’s drought is having impacts beyond farm fields. There’s a worsening situation on the Mississippi River, which has already seen near historic low water levels that have restricted barge traffic since this summer. “With the extreme drought conditions that we had this past year, the Missouri River is at an all-time low, which is affecting the water levels on the Mississippi,” said Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind.
The low water levels are a problem for commercial navigation. While many of Wisconsin’s agricultural products are shipped via the Great Lakes, the Mississippi is also important to the state’s economy. Shipping industry groups are concerned and have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take the necessary steps to maintain the channel.
“We’re in fairly good shape in the Upper Mississippi, but we need a good snowfall this winter,” said Kind. “We lacked that last year, and if we get two winters like that back-to-back it’s going to start causing problems.”
The La Crosse Democrat said the low water levels point to the economic impacts of climate change, and the deteriorating condition of the nation’s infrastructure, including lock and dams. “We are in desperate need of a modernization of our overall infrastructure,” said Kind. “We’re just one major dam failure away from an economic catastrophe that could shut down the transport of good and products on the Mississippi.”