No end in sight to the drought. But the Port of Catoosa isn’t worried about low water causing problems on the Arkansas.
“The (Army Corps of Engineers) does an excellent job of maintaining the pools; they take the necessary measures to ensure navigation,” said the Port’s David Yarbrough. “But … we connect to the Mississippi River, and if they, down the road for whatever reasons, if there are impacts on navigation … even though our system will be navigable, we’ll have no place to go.”
Barges on the Mississippi are currently operating under some draft restrictions—limits on how deep the barge may float under the water.
The maximum draft on barges that come through the Port of Catoosa is still shallower than the reduced draft on the Mississippi.
Yarbrough says a designated navigation pool at the Oologah reservoir ensures the Port has sufficient water to carry out operations.
“We’ve never had to close the system, never had impediments to navigation due to not having enough water in our river,” he said.
He says traffic volume is low right now, but only due to regularly scheduled maintenance along the river system.