View full sizeIn this July 13, 2012, photo, the Memphis Queen riverboat moves up the Mississippi flow in Memphis, Tenn. A year after nearly record floods, the Mississippi river level has actually dropped for this reason low the it"s start to impact commercial operations. Harbor managers worry that their passages come the river can fill up through silt, and also barge operator may have to lighten your loads. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

MEMPHIS, Tennessee -- The Mississippi River's water level keeps dropping, and also the U.S. Army Corps of designers in Memphis claimed Wednesday the is making use of survey boats and dredges to keep safe navigation.

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Meanwhile, river barge and also tow watercraft operators are proceeding to shed money as they alleviate the quantity of material they deserve to safely bring on the river.

The national Weather service said Wednesday that drought has dropped the river's summer level in Memphis to around 13 feet below normal, and also it is estimate to fall around 2 1/2 feet more by Aug. 22. That would be an ext than 55 feet lower than the highest reading taken during last year's near-historic flood.

To resolve the fall river, army Corps survey boats are teaming up v government and commercial dredges to dig out sand and also silt and also ensure the navigating channel is deep sufficient for barges loaded with coal, steel, agricultural products and also other goods.

Also, rock dikes room speeding the circulation of water through specific areas, causing the river to deposit less sediment in the channel. The Corps is required to administer a minimum navigation channel the is 9 feet deep and 300 feet large on the reduced Mississippi River, according to a news release.

Despite the low levels and a higher number of groundings 보다 typical, shore Guard spokesman Ryan Gomez said there space no present plans come close sections of the river. Also if the flow does fall by one more 2 1/2 feet, it would certainly still finish up around 1 foot quick of the record low set in 1988, once a ar of the river was closed because that days.

Gomez said the variety of groundings has actually stabilized, and also the shore Guard is working day-to-day with the military Corps to clear the navigation channel.

"There are particular spots that the river that are building up an ext silt," Gomez said. "It's a day by day evaluate on just how the flow is looking and just taking activity from there."

Still, the low levels native Cairo, Ill. To Vicksburg, Miss. Are causing troubles for flow barges, which draw thousands of loads of material up and also down the waterway every day. Several of the loads finish up as exports departing from south Louisiana ports.

Barges are currently traveling with smaller loads to avoid grounding themselves on the flow bottom. The lighter loads mean less revenue because that barge operators, who still require to attend to overhead costs such as fuel and labor.

Also, short water in ~ docks and terminals renders it more daunting to pack or unloading material, as ships have actually trouble getting close enough to docks.

According come the American waterways Operators, a trade company for the tugboat, towboat and also barge industry, shedding one foot the water results in a loss of 204 lots of cargo capacity per barge. Tows in the lower Mississippi consists 30 to 45 barges each, resulting in reduced capacity of end 9,000 loads per trip, said Tom Allegretti, president and CEO the American waterways Operators.

"This would be the tantamount of adding 130 tractor-trailer van to the highways or 570 rail dare on the rail mechanism for just one huge tow," Allegretti claimed in a statement.

The trade group has determined 10 areas from Cairo to Vicksburg the have end up being problem spots, said Lynn Muench, a senior vice president with the American rivers Operators. Muench claimed the group did no have approximates on exactly how much money is being lost every day, but she did say it is significant.

Muench claimed the market is trying come keep commerce flowing and also is encouraging the military Corps to carry out "proactive dredging" to assist the barge operators.

"It's not a an excellent situation indigenous an economic perspective, and also it's most likely not walking to acquire any much better based ~ above the forecast," Muench said.

As the Wednesday afternoon, the gauge at Memphis had actually the flow at minus-7.1 feet. The "minus" analysis does not mean the flow is dried up -- it's simply a measurement based upon how the river gauge is designed. Essentially, the reading means the flow level is far listed below normal.

The national Weather organization forecasts call for the river to with minus-8.3 feet in Memphis through Aug. 1. The prolonged forecast calls because that the flow to loss to minus-9.6 feet ~ above the Memphis gauge by Aug. 22.

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