Officials ponder water release from Mark Twain Lake

Posted: Dec. 7, 2012 7:58 pm Updated: Dec. 28, 2012 9:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

MONROE CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials from up and down the Mississippi River are studying the possibility of water releases from sites such as Mark Twain Lake.

The thinking behind such an idea is it might help improve the water level of the Mississippi River, where barge traffic is struggling. The river levels have continued to drop as the year has progressed, the result of last summer's drought.

No decision has been made about water release at any point along the river, according to Sandra Spence, the operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Mark Twain Lake.

"A number of possibilities are being studied, but no decision has been made," Spence said.

Spence said any decision for water release(s) will come from the Corps' division office in Vicksburg, Miss.

Officials from a variety of agencies met Thursday near Monroe City to discuss the situation. No other meetings are scheduled at this point, Spence said. The Corps' Water Control Office in St. Louis will call the next meeting, if there is one.

"The information is being evaluated," she said. "We realize the barge traffic is critical to the economy."

The water levels at Mark Twain Lake are also nearing an all-time record.

The level was 601.02 feet on Friday, down from 601.03 on Thursday. The record low is 595.85, which occurred on Nov. 27, 1997.