mississippi river

The Mississippi River has provided George Foster with a living all his life. Now, with the river dropping to historically low levels, it's threatening to take his business down with it.

Foster's office sits atop an empty barge on the river, just south of St. Louis. His building tilts at a 30-degree angle because the water is so low. Visitors may want to stick out their fingertips for balance walking down his narrow hallway.

Erin Krall / WWNO

The Port of New Orleans is keeping a close eye on Mississippi River drought conditions to the north. So far, the port is conducting business as usual.

University of New Orleans professor Norma Jean Mattei chairs the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has studied flood-prone areas of the city, and knows the importance of the Mississippi River — for everything from flood protection to commerce and the environment.

Which is why President Barack Obama has nominated her to join the Mississippi River Commission.

America's Wetland Foundation

An environmental group that’s been studying Gulf Coast wetlands for the past decade is shifting its attention north. The America’s Wetland Foundation is focusing on the source of delta construction: the Mississippi River. The new project is called The Big River Works.

Capt. James "Jimmy" Cramond has been elected president of the Crescent River Port Pilots' Association.

Cramond is Coast Guard-licensed as a master of steam or motor vessels for inland waters. He replaces Capt. Allen J. Gibbs, who served as president for the past 11 years.

Named to the board of directors were Capt. E. Michael Bopp, vice president; Capt. Eric Short, secretary; Capt. Craig Clasen, director; and Capt. Richard Ducros II, director.

Ascension Parish government officials say a proposed Mississippi River diversion project in St. James Parish may be a way to blunt the kind of high storm surge seen after Hurricane Isaac.

The Advocate reports parish officials would like the diversion project planned near Romeville to be reversible as part of a broader flood protection plan in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.

Under that concept, water would flow not only from the Mississippi into the Maurepas Swamp, but also from the swamp into the river in times of high water in the lake basin.

Erin Krall / WWNO

Low water levels in the upper Mississippi River have not affected operations so far at the Port of New Orleans. Port officials say no traffic restrictions are expected.

All the dry weather means there's less water flowing through the once mighty river into the Gulf of Mexico, and low outflow means saltwater from the Gulf is creeping in.

Some Louisiana cities have already begun purchasing drinking water. Now New Orleans is at risk.

An 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River was closed today because of low waters levels.

The AP reports:

"Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets told The Associated Press on Monday that the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.

Jindal declares emergency as salt water approaches

Aug 15, 2012

Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency for Plaquemines Parish as it deals with encroaching salt water that's threatening drinking water in the New Orleans area.

Wednesday's declaration clears the way for state agencies to offer help to the parish as it deals with its water supply issues. The Mississippi River was closed temporarily to shipping traffic as contractors began building an underwater barrier that the Army Corps of Engineers says will stop the advance of salt water.

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