Corps releases water from Carlyle Lake into the Mississippi - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Corps releases water from Carlyle Lake into the Mississippi

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The Army Corps began excavating the area near Thebes in mid December. (Source: KFVS photojournalist John Morgan) The Army Corps began excavating the area near Thebes in mid December. (Source: KFVS photojournalist John Morgan)
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THEBES, IL (KFVS) -

Water officials are keeping a close eye on Mississippi River levels.

Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released water storage from Carlyle Lake located on the Kaskaskia River near St. Louis to support river navigation on the Mississippi River, according to The American Waterways Operators.

They say the first release was on December 15. 

The Army Corps began excavating the area near Thebes in mid December.

Officials say the latest projections indicate that this water release, along with the current weather forecast, will cause the river gauge at Thebes, Illinois to reach:

-Three feet and falling (dropping below 10 feet) around January 7.

-Two feet and falling (dropping below 9 feet) around January 15

-One foot and falling (dropping below 8 feet) around January 23.

The Corps also suggests that its rock pinnacle removal efforts may begin to have an impact on the controlling depths around January 20, but according to The American Waterways Operators, that is still to be determined. 

According to the AWO, the full majority of towboats cannot operate at less than a 9-foot draft, so the majority of navigation will cease on or around mid-January according to this latest forecast without more water. 

They say the channel at Thebes remains closed for 16 hours of the day and only open 8 hours a day to towboats and shippers.

Mississippi River commerce is estimated to be a $180 billion a year industry. If water levels drop below nine feet, barge traffic from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill. could be shut down.

Trucks utilize more fuel than barges, and barges are able to carry a larger volume of goods than trains or trucks.

According to the federal Government Accounting Office, the cost of trucking goods is nine times higher than the cost of transporting products by water.

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