Waterways Council: Use emergency funds to dredge Mississippi River

Calhoun said that "unprecedented" levels of high water have pushed debris into the river, making it harder for ships to enter it.

"This silting may soon result in restrictions being imposed for ships and vessels that rely on this passageway to export products to the world market out of ports in south Louisiana," he said.   "Dredging of this critical artery must happen now, but there is a shortfall of funds to do so.  We urge the White House to immediately submit an emergency request for supplemental funds to Congress, and we ask that Congress expeditiously process that request for Emergency Supplemental Appropriations funding.  

"Dredging this critical artery should be viewed as an investment, not a cost, in the future of our vital inland waterways transportation system," Calhoun concluded.

As it stands now, dredging projects and other improvements to inland waterways are funded through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The Corps of Engineers Civil Works program has included $77 million for trust fund-financed projects in President Obama's 2012 budget proposal.