Bonneville Dam Lock Closure Stops Inland Grain Exports To Global Markets
The Northwest’s soft white wheat harvest is in full swing, but that grain is going nowhere fast. That’s because of an emergency repair to a lock at Bonneville Dam on the Lower Columbia River.
So far, there’s no word on when the lock will reopen to barge traffic.
The bulk of the Northwest’s wheat is shipped down the Snake and Columbia rivers to Portland and Vancouver, Wash., which means all that traffic is on hold for the time being. The grain is largely exported to Pacific Rim countries.
Tug and barging company Tidewater is mooring its vessels in place on the Columbia until they get the all-clear from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That creates a backup of wheat orders, according to Tidewater spokeswoman Jennifer Riddle.
“We are hopeful that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have the repair done very shortly and those ripples will be very subtle,” spokesperson Jennifer Riddle said Monday.
River traffic through Bonneville has been closed since September 5 as crews assess and begin fixing what they’ve described as an issue with “the concrete sill under the downstream gate.”
The Associated Press reported Monday:
Eight million tons of cargo move inland on the Columbia and Snake rivers each year, and 53% of U.S. wheat exports were transported on the Columbia River in 2017 . . . About $2 billion in commercial cargo travels the entire system annually, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it’s the No. 1 export gate in the U.S. for wheat and barley and the No. 2 export gate for corn.
A critical navigation lock on the lower Columbia River is expected to reopen this weekend, between 10 PM Friday and 10 AM Saturday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Right now, Northwest wheat farmers are wrapping up their harvest in many areas. But across the country, farmers are losing money on every load of that golden grain. Continue Reading ‘You Have To Remain An Optimist.’ Northwest Farmers Wrap Wheat Harvest As Prices Depress
Washington’s Snake River dams are important to wheat farmers.The state’s wheat crop brings $700 million into the state’s economy, more than any crop except apples. The vast majority of that wheat gets exported, most of it to Asia. Continue Reading Eastern Washington Wheat Farmers Say Removing Snake Dams To Help Orcas Would Hurt Them