Following record lows, Mississippi River levels on the rise

After reaching record lows earlier this fall, the Mississippi River is expected to rise nine feet in nine days, according to the National Weather Service.

In mid-October, the river had reach the lowest point in Memphis at -10.75 feet, which beat the previous record set in 1988. The low levels have negatively impacted the agriculture industry in Arkansas and Mississippi.

The water levels have also affected barge travel, making cargo transport difficult. The river is expected to rise above 0 by Nov. 21.

Because of the record-low levels, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun building a 1,500-foot-wide underwater levee in the Mississippi River to prevent saltwater from pushing up the river.

The river levels have allowed salt water to intrude upstream. Saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico moves upriver in a wedge shape that may stretch up approximately 20 miles from the bottom to the surface of the river, according to a news release.

To stop the salt water from moving upriver and reduce the risk to freshwater intakes, the New Orleans District began building the underwater barrier sill on Oct. 11 near Myrtle Grove, Louisiana.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the greatest risk associated with the saltwater intrusion is the appearance of unsafe salt levels in municipal drinking water in Plaquemines Parish.

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