Historic lows on the Mississippi is catching the eyes of businesses who depend on the river for transportation. While water levels on the Mississippi in Quincy may be slightly lower than usual, this isn't what businesses are concerned about. It's the water levels near St. Louis, which could damage their business if they're not able to ship goods on the river.
Forget the fiscal cliff. Many businesses say the real economic catastrophe could be falling river levels. Some barge companies are lightening their loads to stay afloat, but shipments could be grounded in the coming weeks if the Mississippi continues to fall.
"I never remember having a problem like this with low water and I don't think anyone has up and down the Mississippi," said Richard McNay, who runs a trucking business in Quincy.
He said if barge traffic comes to a halt, it's going to cost companies a lot more money.
"We only haul 25 tons in our truck. A rail car hauls 100 tons and a barge hauls 16 hundred tons. So it takes more manpower, more fuel, more equipment to move a very small amount of material," he said.
So how bad could this hurt businesses? Phil Conover with the Great River Economic Development Foundation says for some, this could be devastating.
"There are isolated companies where the pain's going to be pretty good. We have companies that have special shipments coming that were supposed to be here in December, and if they don't make the deadline, they'll be pretty severely affected," Conover said.
The Army Corps of Engineers says opening the Missouri River to help raise the Mississippi water levels isn't the solution, but not everyone agrees.
In the meantime, engineers will start blasting rock formations that threaten Barges in the lower Mississippi.
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