Mississippi River Low Flow/Stage Update

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District is currently maintaining authorized channel dimensions in its Area of Responsibility (AOR) with assistance from regional dredge assets. We planned for this based on the long-term forecast and have been able to manage falling river stages thus far. There is one U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) restriction in place at this time – a 9’ draft restriction for all barges transiting the St. Louis area from Mississippi River Mile 185.4 (Locks 27) to 109.9 (Below Chester, IL). We are prepared to respond as required to maintain the authorized navigation channel. We expect that these conditions will get worse before they get better. What we need is rain to fall in the Mississippi River Basin upstream of St. Louis.

What’s Happening – Since September, in addition to our Dredge Potter working in the Saint Louis Harbor (Middle Mississippi) of our AOR, we have the Dredge Jadwin from the Corps Vicksburg District working the Lower End of the of our AOR (Cairo), the St. Paul District Dredge Goetz to address issues south of Locks 27 and Strike Removal Teams (Excavators on Barges) in our pooled reaches. We utilize these assets via a regional team that assigns assets in order to effect efficient dredging and prevent groundings of commercial vessels. The use of regional assets (Goetz, Jadwin) is not a rarity and happens nearly every year in an effort to efficiently address shoaling before it leads to a grounding. We are currently at -2.6 on the St. Louis Gage and are preparing the channel for -7.0 although as we experienced in the 2012 drought, the fate and transport of sediment gets less predictable when the river gage falls below -5.0 at St. Louis. The Missouri River Master Control Manual requires reduced releases from Gavins Point Dam, which usually impacts river stage on the Middle Mississippi in late NOV or early DEC and is a condition we continue to monitor. We could lose, by Water Control estimates, a few feet on the lower end – which will be a concern if we receive no rain. Constant communications with the USCG and River Industry Action Committee are ongoing to inform mariners of current conditions and any issues.

The current Quantitative Precipitation Forecast shows no significant rainfall over the next 7 days.

Please see link below to our weekly installment of the Navigation Channel Condition Status Report for the St. Louis District. These reports are typically published on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

For the most recent and past Navigation Channel Condition Status Reports, visit:


For the most recent channel patrol surveys, visit:


For the most recent pre-dredge surveys, visit:


We will keep you updated as the situation progresses. If you have any questions or concerns on this topic please send me a note so that we can respond accordingly.


Shawn Sullivan
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Strategic Planning Coordinator
St. Louis District
(o) 314-331-8580
(c) 314-303-4778