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Officials: Despite Rain Barge Traffic on Missouri River Restricted

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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OMAHA, Neb. (KMOX/AP) – The amount of water released into the lower Missouri River will be increased this month, as expected, but it will be less than the amount usually released in March, affecting shipping on the river.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says winter runoff into the river above Sioux City, Iowa, will be 80 percent to normal this year. “With that being, said we’re not going to make any headway this year on beginning to refill,” said Jody Farhat, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.

“We have ways to go before we can start seeing some improvement in the reservoir levels.”

The corps announced in a conference call Tuesday that the amount of water will be increased from about 14,000 cubic feet per second to between 23,000 to 28,000 cubic feet per second starting Monday.

That amount will provide only enough water for a minimal channel 8-feet-deep and 200-feet-wide. A normal navigation channel is 9-feet-deep and 300-feet-wide, so barges likely will not be able to carry full loads this spring.

“Basically what has to happen is we need to have good run-off into the reservoir system. That allows those reservoirs to refill, and then we’ll move back to the full service navigation,” explained Farhat.

The corps expect the navigation system to only be shorten by four days but if the drought deeps navigation season could be shorted by as much as 27 days.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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