Barge traffic stunted by historically low Mississippi River levels

The city skyline of New Orleans, Louisiana, along the banks of the Mississippi River shot from an altitude of about 800 feet

Low water levels in the lower Mississippi River are causing barges to become stuck, disrupting goods flows along the route.

Drought along the river basin has plunged river levels to the lowest in a decade, with the National Weather Service concerned that records could be set at river ports in Arkansas and Osceola, amongst others.

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Coast Guard has recorded at least eight barge groundings in the past week.

On 4 October the U.S. Coast Guard reported new barge groundings near Stack Island, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee.

READ: APMT to operate new container terminal at Plaquemines Port

“Due to low water levels on the Lower Mississippi River, we have seen an increase in commercial vessel groundings,” said Capt. Eric Carrero, Director of Western Rivers and Waterways at Coast Guard District Eight.

“In response, the Coast Guard established a Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit with our federal, state, local, and maritime industry partners to facilitate safe navigation and the continued flow of commerce.”

The Mississippi River is a vital trade link transporting soybeans, agrifoods, and other bulk products north and south through the US. It also services transportation of containers to nearby ports including Port of New Orleans and Gulfport.

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