Two freshman Congressmen from southern Illinois want the Army Corps of Engineers to start thinking of ways it can coordinate river management to keep cargo traffic flowing during droughts or floods.
Republican Rodney Davis and Democrat Bill Enyart’s measure was inspired by last year’s near-record low water levels along the Mississippi River.
The requested study would look at how the government could change its management of locks, dams and upstream reservoirs. Enyart says it’s time the country started thinking about rivers as a system, not individual bodies of water.
"How do you balance someone getting to go boating against being able to get barges full of soybeans and corn out to feed the world," he asks. "As it stands today, we can’t balance those."
The legislation also calls for upgrades to river forecasting devices, and for giving the Corps the ability to dredge or blast rock outside of the main navigation channel without special permission from Congress.