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River Traffic Still Dicey on the Mississippi

ST. LOUIS (CN) - An Army Corps of Engineers official says she believes the Mississippi River, despite nearing record low depths, will stay open to shipping, justifying the agency's decision not to release more water into it from the Missouri River.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy told lawmakers that the Corps of Engineers will not scale back the amount of water it began withholding from the Mississippi in November.

Darcy cited a revised river forecast that shows the level of the Mississippi is not dropping as quickly as feared, and that the agency is expediting the removal of massive, shipping-impeding rock formations in the river south of St. Louis.

On Nov. 29, Missouri Attorney General joined U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in asking President Barack Obama to order the Corps to release additional water into the Mississippi. Failure to act, they said, could hang up $7 billion in commerce.

St. Louis received just 1.4 inches of rain in November, which is 2.4 inches blow normal. St. Louis is almost 8 inches below normal for the year and many fear that the Mississippi River will fall beneath its record low, set in 1940.

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