Heavy rains have created historic shoaling along parts of the 234-mile Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, closing it to navigation below the Aberdeen Lock and Dam in Mississippi. The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to start dredging there, where the waterway is completely blocked, but it may take some time.
Opened in 1984, the Tenn-Tom is a man-made waterway connecting the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee River. It is popular with recreational boaters as part of the Great Loop, and it also is used by commercial barge traffic connecting to the Gulf of Mexico.
Heavy rains last month caused a rapid rise and fall of water along the waterway. Some locks were closed temporarily, but the Army Corps says they are now open.
The Army Corps issued this statement: “Users of the waterway should also be aware, however, that navigation obstructions remain nearby the Aberdeen Lock (mile 357), which continue to block river traffic along the TTWW.” It also listed areas of restricted channels, marked by buoys, at mile 326, 362.6, 423.1, 431, 433, 436.6, 440.3.
The shoal at Aberdeen extends about a mile and a half below the lock and covers the entire channel with a depth of six feet or less. The Army Corps says it may take weeks to clear. The problem was that the river there jumped from about 15 feet on Feb. 18 to about 37 feet on Feb. 24. By early March it had receded back to 16 feet, but the damage was done.
“It is a tremendous amount of material there, approximately 400,000 cubic yards,” said Justin Murphree, the Corps’ operations manager for the Tenn-Tom. He said that’s almost as much as the Corps dredges on the entire waterway in a year (500,000 cubic yards). Read more: