Friday's announcement couldn't have come at a worse time for farmers trying to cash in on a possible record breaking harvest for northeast Louisiana. As Lake Providence announced they will stop dredging which will temporarily close the port to barge traffic.
Farmers, river and grain operators say the situation in Lake Providence is heart breaking.
During a meeting Friday they listened on as Army Corps of Engineer representative Jerry Stewart explained the situation. River levels are too low at the port to continue to allow dredging which in turn shuts the port down to barge traffic. This means, farmers will not be able to use the port to get their corn and soy beans to market when harvesting begins in two weeks.
'There isn't a way to move this crop to the field, to the river, to the market. Our River system is shut down due to a lack of dredging," says Johnny Martin of Terral River Services.
Dredging is a way to deepen shallow waterways, and water levels have gotten so low in the port that the dredging barges had to leave or risks getting stuck.
At this point levels will continue to drop in the port and farmers will have to use nearby ports for grain transportation. Levels here could drop as low at five feet.
Just a few miles south of Lake Providence, dredging efforts continue at the Madison Parish Port.
Army Corps of Engineers are keeping this waterway open to barge traffic using dredging. They are trying to combat the shallow waters with dredging efforts in order to keep water levels high enough to support barge traffic.
"Some of the ports in
the district are having low water issues that may hinder barge traffic. So dredging
is what we are doing to home commerce in and out of ports," says Army Corps of
Engineers spokesperson Kavanaugh Breazeale.
Officials say many ports off of the Mississippi river are at risk of shutting down due to low level. Other possible closures include Rosedale, Vicksburg, and Greenville.