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Coast Guard: Barge Groundings Increasing on Parched Lower Mississippi River

Mike Schuler
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October 5, 2022

The U.S. Coast Guard says it is responding to an increasing number of barge groundings due to low water levels in the Lower Mississippi River.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday said there were reports of barge groundings near Stack Island, Mississippi, with a waterway restriction from mile marker 478 to 492, and Memphis, Tennessee, with a waterway closure from mile marker 686 to 676.

In the past week, Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River has reported eight groundings due to low water levels.

Low water on the Mississippi River has brought some southern sections of the Mississippi River to a standstill, halting critical shipments of grain, fertilizer and other commodities just as peak harvesting is ramping up. Around 100 tow boats hauling some 1,600 barges were lined up for miles waiting to pass through one trouble spot near Stack Island, which has been largely closed since late last week, Reuters reported Tuesday citing shipping sources.

The Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit (MTSRU) has been established to coordinate and facilitate waterway recovery, track the status of the waterway, recommend course of action to the captain-of-the-port, resume maritime commerce flow, and provide a forum for all stakeholders.

“Due to low water levels on the Lower Mississippi River, we have seen an increase in commercial vessel groundings,” said Capt. Eric Carrero, Director of Western Rivers and Waterways at Coast Guard District Eight. “In response, the Coast Guard established a Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit with our federal, state, local, and maritime industry partners to facilitate safe navigation and the continued flow of commerce along the affected waterways.”

For more information regarding the low water levels, see: Lower Mississippi River Low Water Conditions MM 869-303 and MSIB Vol XXII Issue 053 Low Water Safety Advisory: Mississippi River MM 0.0 to MM 167.5 AHP.

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