JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – The Mississippi River’s low water levels are causing panic among cities and ports along the river, and many are already seeing the effects.
Cities like Vicksburg and Greenville rely heavily on tourism and shipping on the Mississippi River, and when it’s so low that I can stand inside, traffic on the river should be reduced. As a result, officials say that this will affect the economy of the country and the country.
About 500 million tons of cargo are shipped on the Mississippi River each year. However, when the rivers fall below average, only many rivers can flow up and down.
“Of course it has created a maritime hazard for the navigation system. Despite the constant breaching and reporting of the channel, there are times when we have to enforce, you know, restricting waterways from time to time such as the size of furnaces and restrictions,” said Lt. Phillip Vanderweit is the US Coast Guard.
According to the US Army Corp of Engineers, the highest water level this time of year in Greenville is 17.8ft. On Tuesday, that number is 7.38ft, something Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons has noticed.
“The slow movement of barge cargo has really increased the cost of transportation, and what you’re doing is loading half-full boats because of lower river flows,” Mayor Simmons said.
As a result, the amount of products flowing in the river, as well as being sold and placed in stores, is decreasing and will not only affect the economy of the state but also the country.
“The Mississippi River produces or grows more than 90% of America’s water resources,” said Waterways Council Vice President Paul Rhode. “Agricultural exports are a very important part of this. 60% of our exports go to the Mississippi River.”
With nearly 38% of Greenville’s residents living below the poverty line, Mayor Simmons says his city’s low budget could make its citizens suffer even more.
“If they can’t get boats down and down the river, you’re going to start seeing global food shortages or food prices going up,” Mayor Simmons said.
“In 2012, we announced an increase in meat and milk prices of more than $3 to consumers. We hope that we do not see this because of this drought, but it is something that we are closely monitoring. So the average citizen will feel the consequences,” said the Executive Director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. Colin Wellenkamp.
Going forward, the experts you’ve just heard from, as well as our First Meteorologists, agree that it may take several months for the river to start working again. It won’t just come from the rain here in the South; it will need to come from the northern snow and more.
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