Yazoo Canal dredging to begin Monday

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dredging at the Port of Vicksburg is expected to start Monday by a contract vessel, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ main dredge has been in a Memphis shop for repairs, a Corps spokesman said Tuesday.

The Dredge Iowa, owned by Illinois-based Great Lakes Barge Dredge and Dock Company, is set to leave Greenville Friday for the trip downriver, spokesman Kavanaugh Breazeale said.

“It has approximately 50 days of funding to dredge,” Breazeale said.

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The Iowa, at 32 feet wide and 130 feet long, is better suited to dredge in the shallow Yazoo Diversion Canal, where the port is located, rather than the Jadwin, which is 52 feet wide and 274 feet long, Breazeale said. The larger vessel’s rudder will be repaired, then it is to return to dry-dock in Vicksburg.

“The Jadwin would be too big and is made for the river,” he said.

The river stood at 2.5 feet in Vicksburg this morning, up three-tenths of a foot. A forecast by the National Weather Service through Nov. 13 shows the river at 1 foot in Vicksburg by then, about a foot higher than the previous four-week outlook.

About $6.84 million in emergency dredging on shallow-draft ports between Greenville and Vicksburg began in late June. The low-water season could last until February, the Corps predicts, and 130 temporary jobs on the Mat Sinking Unit’s three motor vessels are expected to be available.

Vicksburg was last on that list of ports on the main stem and on tributaries of the Mississippi River. The Dredge Butcher, operated by Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Company, was to finish a contract to dredge the river at Yellow Bend, Ark., this week, Breazeale said.

Harbors on the river in Lake Providence, Greenville and Memphis and on the Ouachita/Black and Red River basins also have been dredged to remove silt left over from last year’s flooding and exposed by this year’s drought.