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Port of Catoosa expects water traffic won't resume until later this fall

Posted at 4:00 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 18:23:20-04

CATOOSA, Okla. — Staff on the Port of Catoosa hoped to get traffic moving by September.

But after speaking with the Army Corps of Engineers this week, they're waiting to move those sunken barges near Webbers Falls, and water traffic might not be traveling at the usual rate until 2020.

"I think the challenges associated with removing those obstructions at Loch 16 have been more daunting than they imagined. Nobody is wanting to say today when that day will be, nobody wants to venture out there and say because there are still some unknowns involved," Port director David Yarbrough said.

That's affecting industries from steel to fertilizer and grain, hitting agriculture hard this season.

"Some of them had a devastating year. A lot of them lost their crops due to flooding earlier in the year, now they can't get fertilizer cost-effectively. Will they plant? How will that affect wheat and soybean prices next year, cow/calf prices... it's all related," Yarbrough said.

At this rate the waterway is losing the equivalent of two million dollars a day.

"The flows that we've seen are literally unprecedented. If you're talking in the neighborhood of 800,000 cubic feet per second near Muskogee as opposed to 8,000 cubic feet per second on a normal basis... we hope to never see this again, honestly," economic development director Andrew Ralston said.

Ralston hopes traffic at least starts to move by October.

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