By The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ, Miss. —
How many people does it take to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ attention?
That’s a bit of a trick question since the Corps doesn’t really work on behalf of citizens or, it seems, common sense.
No, the Corps seems to operate from its own playbook — often poorly communicated to the greater public. Corps leaders respond automatically to pieces of paper rather than human logic and common sense.
Hundreds of citizens and more than 62 members of Congress have begged to get the Corps’ attention recently in response to the group’s latest baffling decision, but so far to no avail.
Despite the public pleas, the Corps has continued with its plan to reduce water being diverted from the Missouri River into the Mississippi River. The move is expected to drop the Mississippi River level near the location where the rivers meet by as much as three feet.
Such a move is playing with fire, critics say, as the Mississippi River’s level is already critically low due to drought in the Midwest. The Mississippi is so low that reducing the river’s level further may halt barge traffic entirely.
That may not seem like such a big deal, until you consider the volume of necessities that moves on the Mississippi River each year.
Barges carry 20 percent of the country’s coal and more than 60 percent of grain exports, The Associated Press reported.
Corps officials responsible for the decision to hold back the Missouri’s water say its impact on the Mississippi is merely incidental and not really their concern.
The Corps needs a rapid dose of common sense before its “by the book” actions make the nation’s economy run aground. Congressional action may be the only recourse, and given their impotence at the moment, that seems unlikely.