Legislation would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from the Missouri River, to raise the water level on the Mississippi, where drought conditions could soon halt barge traffic.

A small boat passes along the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Miss., Thursday, July 26. 2012. in a switch of extremes, the river has dropped to very low levels this summer unlike last year when the river was flooding much of the Delta due to record high levels. The drop in water level now exposes the river bottom, forcing river traffic to a trickle as barges are forced to lessen their loads to keep from getting stuck on sandbars. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is urging U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to sponsor and pass legislation that would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from the Missouri River, to raise the water level on the Mississippi, where drought conditions could soon halt barge traffic.

Beshear sent a letter to McConnell and Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday asking them to take the action quickly.

The three have warned of potentially negative economic consequences if the water level on the Mississippi River continues to fall.

McConnell and Paul said in a letter to Beshear last week that commercial traffic on the river could "come to a complete halt in coming days" unless the Corps of Engineers takes action to increase the water flow.


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