USACE to begin the largest study on the Mississippi River
BATON ROUGE- Things are flowing smoothly along the Mississippi River and the United States Army Corps of Engineers is hoping to keep it that way.
"It is a vital source of economic power for us. It counts for $130 billion in commerce annually to the tune of 500 million tons of commodities moving on it," Col. Cullen Jones, 65th Commander of New Orleans District, said.
On Thursday, the USACE announced its largest study ever focused on the river.
"There may be modifications to structures that we currently have on the systems, everything from ranging old river control structure, Morganza control structure, all the way to our locks and flood gates we have throughout," Jones said.
In just one year, people have seen two extremes along the major commerce highway: last October, historic low levels - in April, homes flooded in the Midwest.
"Part of the lower Mississippi River comprehensive study will have us look at when we have these extreme conditions, is the river set up and are our structures in place to best deal with them," Jones said.
The $25 million study will take place over the next five years.
"We can maintain navigation, make sure we have water supplies, reduce flood risk across the board. It's exciting. We get to look at the river now to see how we can improve it for the future," Jones said.
Researchers will start in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and make their way to the Gulf of Mexico, looking at all kinds of things along the way.
"We're going to be able to provide some actionable recommendations to congress so that we can ensure this river is liable for the next 100 years," Jones said.
The first step Jones says, is to meet with officials in all seven states.
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