The US Army Corps of Engineers this week began shutting flow from a South Dakota reservoir which feeds into Mississippi River, just north of St. Louis. The overall lack of water is expected to cause big problems moving freight on the river.
The Army Corps is holding back water at the Gavins Point Dam in Yankton, S.D., to conserve for the next Missouri River shipping season. But the Mississippi River needs that water right now to keep the shipping channel at St. Louis least nine-feet deep. Major General John Peabody of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the Corps can’t act to benefit one party, at the expense of others: “The truth is, without the dam you would probably have, basically a trickle at this time of year anyway, because we would have not storage capability. So actually you’re getting more than you would have if not for the projects of the Corps of Engineers." Compounding the issue of scarce water is the fact North Dakota’s leaders are eager to tap millions of gallons from those same reservoirs for use in the state’s oil fracking boom.