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More Beaches, Sandbars Along Mississippi River This Summer

River 4 feet below Record Low

Text and photos by Carol Arnett

Drivers using the I-270 bridge from North County into Illinois this summer may have noticed major changes in the river. New sandbars and beaches have appeared due to the low level of the river.

Mike Petersen, Chief of Public Affairs for the Army Corps of Engineers, said in an interview that the river was low, but there were no navigation issues for shipping traffic.

“It’s twelve feet lower than average this time of year,” Petersen said. However, he added, it is still four feet above a record low.

“It does look different, especially at the chain of rocks,” Petersen said. Boats are diverted to the Chain of Rocks Canal north of I-270. “The Chain of Rocks Canal is functioning fine,” he added.

Dry conditions in the middle of the country mean that no water is getting to the river, Petersen said. “The river is expected to drop slowly and steadily for the foreseeable future.”

Petersen said the Corps has taken action to keep the channel open. He said that further downriver, horseshoe shaped structures in the river help keep the channel open and help prevent navigation issues.

Dry conditions are expected to continue. “We’re not seeing a lot of relief in site. We’re keeping an eye on things,” Petersen said.

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