Low Mississippi River levels are impacting everything from farming to barge traffic and tourism

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 7:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi River is just over four feet in Vicksburg as of Monday. It’s a level low enough to slow down river-based business and stop it in some cases.

It’s unusual to see so much exposed ground along the banks of the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.

“This is probably the lowest I’ve seen in my 10 years as mayor of the city of Vicksburg,” said Mayor George Flaggs. “This is not normal.”

Mayor George Flaggs says it means more cleanup.

“Trash, tree limbs, everything from the bottom, comes to the top,” described Flaggs. “When it gets low like this where it uncovers sediment that’s been there for a long time. So, we have to come back and dredge it back into the water, so it won’t look so bad on our riverfront.”

Flaggs says it shows a need for the Corps of Engineers to do more dredging along the River in Vicksburg. He was surprised to see the American Heritage docked at the River, noting others have suspended operations while the water’s so low.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson says the low water couldn’t come at a worse time.

“We have all of our crops coming in the Delta,” said Gipson. “Last week, we’d harvested about 95% of our grain in the Delta in Mississippi, for that matter. All of that grain would normally go into an elevator to be loaded on a barge in the Mississippi River and go up and down the River. We have trucks loaded down with grain all over Mississippi waiting, not just Mississippi, Louisiana, all over the country up and down the River waiting to get on those barges.”

There is a workaround to move some but not all of the goods.

“Most of the elevators are on the river,” said Gipson. “There are a few elevators that have rail capacity. So there is an outlet for some of these crops, corn soybeans, but that’s a limited outlet.”

Many barges are at a standstill. It’s another sight that Mayor Flaggs says again isn’t the norm, and Gipson is praying that will soon change.

“The only real solution is rainfall,” noted Gipson. “And only the good Lord can do that.”

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