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Canada’s Shrinking St. Lawrence Seaway Latest Threat to Shipping Routes

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom transits through one of many locks as she makes her way up the Welland Canal. Freedom is the first of two littoral combat ships designed to operate in shallow water environments to counter threats in coastal regions and is currently in route to Norfolk, Va.

Canada’s Shrinking St. Lawrence Seaway Latest Threat to Shipping Routes

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October 26, 2022

By Jen Skerritt (Bloomberg) A key Canadian shipping corridor is the latest waterway struggling with dwindling water levels.

Parts of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal have hit 10-year lows, said Bryce Carmichael, hydraulic engineer and US section secretary for the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board. Seaway managers in Canada and the US are monitoring the conditions and considering boosting the flow of water from Lake Ontario to make conditions safer for commercial ships, according to Carmichael.

“Right now, we’re expecting two to three weeks of lower levels,” he said.

The shrinking water levels in Canada come as closures on the Mississippi River threaten exports of corn and soybeans just as farmers are in the thick of harvest, threatening to cause a buildup of supplies. The phenomenon has also hit Europe and China, where the Rhine River and Yangtze shrunk this year.

Read more: Waterways And Lakes Are Evaporating Worldwide

River levels on the St. Lawrence have “decreased considerably” and the latest forecasts by the Canadian Coast Guard call for further drops, according to a customer bulletin from global shipping line Hapag-Lloyd AG. The company has increased rates to move cargo to and through Montreal’s port until Nov. 1.

“It’s been very low for a while,” said Frank Seglenieks, Canadian co-chair of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board of Control, noting the basin has been dry this spring and summer, impacting water levels. “In general, when we have lower water levels ships do have to lighten their loads.”

Also Read: The Deadly History Of The St. Lawrence Seaway

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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