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View Diary: Drought and Low Water: The Mississippi May Be Unnavigable Within Weeks (191 comments)

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  •  I've had this discussion with my landlord, (18+ / 0-)

    who stops in now and then to bum a smoke.  (He's "trying" to quit.)  He contends that we've had enough rain lately to replenish the subsoil moisture, but I think he's too young to understand what a drought can really do.  

    Just because the surface looks okay it doesn't mean that things are doing well below ground.  I go down to the riverfront fairly often and barge traffic has slowed to a crawl.  They are allowing barges through Lock and Dam 15, but they can't be full or they'd bottom out.  A month or so ago, there was a dredger out in the channel, but they can't keep digging to provide depth.  If there is no water, the channel won't fill.

    We need snow this winter.  The landlord has an interest in not having to clear it away, but we need moisture that will melt slowly and be absorbed into the ground.  We need runoff from upstream to replenish the small streams that feed the Mississippi.  People who don't live on the river can't imagine how much of our food and fuel flow up and down this Father of Waters.  It is a cheap and efficient way to move things through the center of the country

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:48:20 AM PST

    •  Your landlord obviously didn't listen to the news (10+ / 0-)

      over the weekend.... The reports are that the subsoil moisture is at its lowest record in 20 +/- years for this time of year.  I bet he doesn't remember the drought of 88/89 either.  That was bad.

      I was watching the Miss every Sunday and Thursday when I had to work in Peoria.  It was alarming how low it was getting just south of the Quad Cities.  Even with the lock and dams down river from it.  For your reference - the I280 bridge - there is an island on the Iowa side just to the north of the bridge -  it was close to not being an island at the end of October because the sandbar going that roughly 50 feet from the shore to the island was becoming more exposed.  Then on the east side of this island, sandbars were starting to show around 50-75 feet from the island.  IIRC, there are markers showing where the shipping lane is located.

      •  I know that island. (6+ / 0-)

        I also know that that whole area is usually a soggy wetland, especially on the Illinois side.  The casino which sits just below L&D 15 has been sitting on the riverbed for most of the summer.  

        The drought of 88-89 was a humdinger.  I'd guess that he was a teenager then.  If we do another year like the last, we'll be in the same boat.  All this summer, I'd walk past places where they had automatic sprinklers and nearly weep at the waste.  Why in the world we have such a fetish with grass is beyond me....

        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

        by luckylizard on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:17:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh definitely a soggy, soggy area!!! I did see (4+ / 0-)

          several 'marsh' areas that had dried up by the beginning of July.  Most were along that other river that empties out to the Miss.

          •  That would be the Rock River. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nchristine, LilithGardener, SadieSue

            It's a lot more "wild" than the Mississippi.  There is no big system of dams, although there may be one or two along its length.  Seeing it so low makes it hard to believe that it can even approach something like a flash flood now and then, yet there are lots of people who live along it or have cabins there.  

            Another interesting river is the Wapsi (Wapsipinicon) that runs through northern Scott County.  (It might be familiar to you because it runs through or near your neck of the woods, I think.)  It's a lazier stream, flowing almost aimlessly through the fields and woods, but when it floods, it can affect people for miles on either side.  I'll bet there aren't any boggy areas out there now, either.  It empties into the Mississippi just south of Clinton.

            -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

            by luckylizard on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:18:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, know the Wapsi - it floods out Anamosa (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LilithGardener, luckylizard, SadieSue

              every so often.  Up here, I wouldn't call it a lazy stream or river for that matter.  It's pretty fast.  But, you're probably correct in that there aren't any marshy areas for it this year.

              •  I've never seen it up that far. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nchristine, SadieSue

                It forms the border between Scott and Clinton counties and just spreads out all over the place down here.  It's still a very dangerous river, though.  Nearly every summer at least one person drowns there, including a neighbor years ago.

                -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                by luckylizard on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:00:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Cedar dumps into the Iowa at Columbus (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Junction - in Louisa Co.  Then the Iowa dumps into the Miss at Wapello.  I know that the Cedar in Cedar Co along I80 looked pretty dreadful this summer.  The Iowa was looking pretty good in IC, but who knows what it looks like further down.

                  Yeah, there's always some type of accident on the Wapsi.  It'll spread out quite a bit in the Anamosa area as well.  The Jones Co fair grounds is ground zero for flooding on the Wapsi.  There's a roller dam somewhere near the Anamosa area as well.

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