Towboats and barges continue to make their way up and down the muddy waters of the Missouri River thanks
to the reopening of a 200-foot wide navigable channel maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The river was deemed open for avigation April 1 after Corps reconnaissance
boats inspected the 8-foot deep channel.
The U.S. Coast Guard is expected to complete buoy placement marking the
channel by week's end.
Opening of the navigation season comes after releases were increased from
Gavins Point Dam in late March. Releases averaged 14,700 cfs in March,
compared to a long-term average of 20,700 cfs, to help conserve water in
the big upstream reservoirs.
Maintaining a navigable channel continues to be important this year, as
construction of a 750 Megawatt power plant continues near Council Bluffs.
Major pieces of the plant are too large to move via rail or road, and
reengineering the plant to accommodate other methods of transportation
would have meant a reduction of nearly 200 megawatts of annual production
from the plant.
That reduction would equate to nearly $60 million in lost revenues annually.
River flows are expected to continue at minimum service levels throughout
the season, a move that is expected to shorten the season by 53 to 61 days,
depending on runoff.
A final determination on the season length will be made July 1 after the Corps
reviews the storage level in upstream reservoirs.