Global warming affects different water ways differently. Glacier melt has opened up the Northwest Passage again, but the mighty Mississippi’s water level is reaching a historic low due to the Midwestern drought, and America’s busiest waterway could become impassable to barge traffic between Cairo, Illinois and St. Louis within two weeks.
The country’s biggest inland waterway is already too shallow for barge traffic shipping coal and steel. The Mississippi is now about two feet below its normal level for this time of year, and is expected to soon reach an all-time low of just over 6 feet soon.
On the McClatchy website, Scott Muerz quotes water administrator Tom Allegrett as saying, "The Mississippi River is an economic superhighway that efficiently carries hundreds of millions of tones of essential goods for domestic use as well as national export."
Muerz quotes Corps of Engineer spokesperson Sue Casseau as saying, "There are several states involved in this situation and the Corps of Engineers is responsible for serving the nation as a whole."
He quotes Coast Guard Lieutenant Colin Fogarty as saying, "Most barges need at least a 9 foot draft. We will not speculate when or if the river will be closed."
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