Lock and Dam No. 3

U.S. Lock & Dam No. 3 near Red Wing is one of the narrowest dams on the Mississippi River. Because of a bend in the river, the dam lies on a north-south axis. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, continues to closely monitor water levels on the Upper Mississippi River as drought conditions continue across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The low water is not affecting shipping conditions on the river and navigation continues.

"Low flow is exactly the conditions for which the locks were built," said Dan Fasching, St. Paul District water manager for the Upper Mississippi River. "The locks, combined with dredging efforts, are used to maintain navigable depths in the main channel"

The lowest flow recorded at Lock and Dam 2, in Hastings was in 1976, when the flow fell to only 500 cubic feet per second, or cfs, and navigation continued. The current flow at Lock and Dam 2 is around 3,000 cfs.

Water levels along the Mississippi River can be monitored at https://water.usace.army.mil/.

The levels at Lock and Dam No. 3 at Welch have been dropping -- from 2.28 feet on Saturday, July 17, to 2.13 feet on Wednesday, July 21. 

For more information on how the lock and dam system work to maintain the 9-foot navigation channel, see: https://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Locks-Dams/.

The St. Paul District navigation program provides a safe, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation system on the Upper Mississippi River for the movement of commercial goods and for national security needs. To do this, the district maintains a 9-foot navigation channel and 13 locks and dams from Minneapolis to Guttenberg, Iowa. Keeping this system open is vital to the nation's economy.

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