Allison Blood, KMOX News

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Earlier this week the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would begin rock blasting to increase water flow will begin in January, but now a national trade association, the American Waterways Operators, says that won’t be enough to keep navigation from shutting down.  (Read more: Billions at stake if Mississippi River shuts down.)

Spokeswoman Ann McCulloch says starting in January is too late, because water levels could drop to dangerous levels starting next week.

But she says even if the blasting were to start today, without additional water from the Missouri River, barge traffic will be in trouble, because there’s no significant rainfall in the forecast.

She says already some shipping companies have begun to lighten loads or cancel trips all together to prevent a barge from getting stuck on a sand bar or worse, destroyed by a rock pinnacle. She says that’s not only going to drive up the price of goods like soy beans and metals for manufacturing, but it could mean thousands of jobs lost in Missouri.

Despite the Army Corp’s refusal to release more water from the Missouri River onto the Mississippi, McCulloch says the union and lawmakers are pleading for them to reconsider.

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