Low levels along the Mississippi River cause headaches for companies – KAIT

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Low levels along the Mississippi River cause headaches for companies - KAIT

OSCEOLA, Ark. (KAIT) A recent drought has caused the Mississippi River to some of the lowest levels it’s witnessed in more than ten years.

The National Weather Service said the river was just a little at or below -8.1 meters on Tuesday September. 27,

A drought that has hit the country is forcing businesses to reconsider how they ship their products.

Cody Brown, Director of Shipping and Logistics for Big River Steel Cody Brown, Director of Shipping and Logistics for Big River Steel, said they are required by the river to work 15 feet lower than where the river normally is.

“We are operating at optimum levels at 22 feet, which is the Osceola marker. Right now, we’re operating below the eight- or seven foot mark at the moment, which is extremely challenging to manage,” he said.

Brown explained that they’ve been forced to think differently about the way they deliver products, which has taken a burden on his employees.

“It produces an enormous amount of time-consuming and precise task for us as a port operator” he added.

Other businesses such as Poinsett Rice and Grain are also operating at a lower capacity in order to prevent barges from reaching the bottom of the river.

“It hinders our ability to obtain barges, and it hinders how much we can load onto the barge. We’re using about 60% capacity,” added Jeff Worsham, Port Manager and Operator for Poinsett Rice and Grain.

He added that a reduction in capacity can result in cost of freight that is higher which could delay harvesting and create difficult for those working on the river.

Both men suggested that if levels continue to drop there is a possibility the river industry might limit the amount of water that can be put into the barge.