Dedicated to the Quality of Life
in the Ouachita Valley
P. O. Box 913
Camden, Arkansas 71701
"A River Basin of Opportunity, 
A Century Plus of Commitment"

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Commerce & Statistics

In 2017 commodity movements on the Ouachita-Black Rivers was approximately 800,000 tons, down 26 percent from 1,075,000 tons, recorded in 2014, the last year tonnage was above 1 million tons. The reduction can be attributed to the general economic recession our country was experiencing.  The Ouachita-Black Rivers Navigation Project tonnage was consistently above 1 million tons until 2011 when the Corps of Engineers began communicating the use of the Inland Marine Transportation Study and potential reduction in operating hours of the four waterway locks.  In 2012 operating hours were reduced on all four waterway locks.  Also, in 2011 a major user on the upper portion of the waterway stopped shipping on the waterway.  Full service was returned to the lower two locks, Jonesville and Columbia, in November 2015.  Currently the upper two locks, Felsenthal and H.K. Thatcher, are only operated 5 days per week (10 hours daily) and no weekend service.  Exceptionally high spring river stages the last couple of years and the 3 July 2018 emergency closure of the Columbia Lock has hampered commercial traffic on the waterway. 

Exceptionally high spring river stages to include 2019 and 2020 has hampered commercial traffic of the waterway. High water plus the Emergency Closure of the Columbia Lock on 3 July 2018 have had great impacts on commercial tonnage. After a year’s closure, the Lock is now open. The below data for 2018 and 2019 reflect this closure.

While it was anticipated that tonnage would increase with the opening of the lock in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic most likely had some play in the tonnage numbers. We had hoped that 2019 would be a recovery year. When we compare the tonnage data for the first quarter of 2020 (nearly 125,000 tons), we believe we are on a glide path to meet or surpass 2017 tonnage levels, especially considering Downbound agricultural commodities which will certainly come in the fall at harvest. With an estimated economic resurgence following the national economic pandemic crisis, a 2020 supplemental for dredging, and a potential increase in commercial traffic on the upper waterway, we are very optimistic for increases in commercial tonnage in 2021 and beyond.

Crude petroleum, waterway improvement materials, gasoline, diesel fuel, residual fuel oil, sodium hydroxide, limestone, and soybeans, wheat, corn and sorghum grains are the main commodities moved on the waterway.  Cities and Economic Development Organizations are working to assist potential waterway users in locating and utilizing the waterway.  The Ouachita-Black Rivers Navigation Project has been recognized as the primary generator of economic and environmental activity in the Ouachita River Basin.  Commercial use of the Ouachita River generates nearly $5.7 Billion annually and is linked to nearly 21,000 full-time jobs in Louisiana and Arkansas.


YEAR  TONNAGE                  YEAR  TONNAGE

2000   1,598,000                2009   1,309,000

2001   1,655,000                2010   1,174,000

2002   1,611,000                2011      999,000

2003   1,715,000                2012      955,000

2004   1,744,000                2013   1,023000

2005   1,672,000                2014   1,075,000

2006   1,906,000                2015      945,000

2007   1,764,000                2016      884,000

2008   1,642,000                2017      797,000

2018 - 549,000           2019   502,000