MADISON PARISH (KTVE/KARD) — What happens when the changes of nature collide with local industry?
Ask Madison Parish Port Commissioner Terry Murphy, who sees that the waters of the Mighty Mississippi are too low for this time of year.
“They were low about three or four weeks ago. It got down to about 12 or 13 feet, but for this time of year, it’s been lower than normal,” Murphy told KTVE/KARD.
For a port that shipped more than 557,000 tons in 2013, that’s bad news.
A receding river is a roadblock for barges.
“Without the right depth and width, you don’t have, basically, a water highway you can use,” Senator David Vitter, (R) Louisiana, said.
That equals business and agriculture in the crossfire.
“That’s really endangered farmers’ and others’ ability to get their products out,” said Vitter.
“That would affect probbaly 75% of the people employed outside of Ouachita Parish,” Murphy added.
Sen. Vitter said a new effort in Congress is bringing in aid.
“We got some significant funding, over a half a million dollars for dredging for the port,” he said.
$525,000 to be exact, according to Murphy.
Dredging, conducted by the Army Corps. of Engineers, will scoop out a river’s bed, clearing obstructions.
“There’s one little small sandbar that will build up out about 200 yards from the end of this dock and the dredging keeps that from happening,” Murphy explained.
While Murphy said the money won’t cover all of the dredging, it’s a much-needed lifeline that he said he’s grateful for.
“It’ll be more than we’ve had in the past couple of years,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that our congressional delegation in D.C. was able to get us that funding in Louisiana.”
Murphy wasn’t able to tell KTVE/KARD just yet when the Army Corps. of Engineers will begin the dredging work.
Senator Vitter told KTVE/KARD similar funding projects will go toward the Lake Providence port and the port in Ouachita Parish.