The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, continues its Mississippi River dredging operations to reopen the river to commercial navigation following recent high water.
The Corps is still dredging the nine-foot navigation channel between Wabasha, Minn., and Alma, Wis., in Pool 4. The Corps estimates completing a 200-foot wide pilot channel August 10. Until dredging operations can be completed, the channel will remain closed to commercial navigation. Several locations within the pool have depths less than the necessary nine feet. The channel in Pool 4 was first closed July 19 at river mile 754 due to shallow conditions.
The channel also remains closed to commercial navigation in Pool 6, near Winona, Minn. The Corps estimates completing a 200-foot wide pilot channel August 8. Several locations have current depths less than nine feet extending across the entire navigation channel. The channel in Pool 6 was closed July 23 after a grounding at Blacksmith Slough, near river mile 719.2.
The Corps has two government dredging operations, the Dredge Goetz and a mechanical dredging crew, along with two contract mechanical dredging operations currently working to remove the dredged material from the channel. The Corps also has two channel survey boats operating throughout the St. Paul District to monitor other areas within the river as well as supporting dredging operations. The survey results will be evaluated and prioritized based on dredging needs.
Recent high waters from the June floods caused large amounts of sediment to be carried in the river. When the flows reduced, the sediment settled out of the water, which is creating navigation hazards as the water elevation recedes to normal operating levels.
The Corps is coordinating with navigation industry officials and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure everyone understands what is being done to reopen the channel as soon as possible.