According to an ULM economic impact study released, commercial use of the Ouachita River produces billions in revenue and several thousand jobs in North Louisiana. Dr. Bob Eisenstadt of the ULM Center for Business and Economic Research says the nearly year long study revealed how important the river is.
"It was approximately $5.7 billion of exacerbated impact. That involved about $1.6 billion of household income and nearly 21,000 full time equivalent jobs."
Barge traffic on the river is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. But, the Corps has reduced servicing four locks and dams and dredging on the Ouachita resulting in less barge traffic. Ouachita River Valley Association President Randy Denmon says they will be able to use this study to ask the federal government to keep the river open and navigable.
"This is a key instrument that we will use in D.C. to try to increase funding for the river. Not just to maintain it to increase the funding to get a bigger pool and more lock service."
ULM President Dr. Nick Bruno says a minimum maintained water level of the Ouachita is vital to keep river traffic flowing in North Louisiana.
"The reality is we don't sometime think about rivers vanishing or going away. But this one could very well go away if we don't get the support that we need to keep the structures in place and a dredge at an appropriate depth."