2013-01-02. Commodities fear as mighty Mississippi runs dry in drought

posted Jan 2, 2013, 12:42 PM by Alan Gould
| Tim Walker, The Independent. Relevant to GSS Climate Change, chapter 8. Excerpt:  … the mighty Mississippi is being choked by drought, as historically low water levels threaten to halt the flow of vital commodities … with potentially devastating economic consequences. Last summer saw the country's worst drought for more than 50 years, damaging crops across the Mid-West and making stretches of the Mississippi perilously shallow and narrow for barge traffic, which typically carries around $7bn of grain, coal, crude oil, cement and other materials and commodities along the river in December and January. ... a section of the river may become impassable by Thursday. …Debra Colbert, senior vice-president of the Waterways Council, told The Independent: "We have never had an extended closure on the Mississippi. This is the height of the export shipping season. From now until March, more than 60 per cent of the nation's grain moves on the inland waterway, bound for export. The impacts are going to be enormous, …." …Responsibility for keeping the shipping channel open falls to the US Army's Corps of Engineers, which said the drought-induced crisis was "equal to or worse than any of the past five decades".  …The region's senators recently wrote to President Obama, pressing for more water to be allowed into the Mississippi from another tributary, the Missouri…. The Corps of Engineers cut the flow of the Missouri by two-thirds in November to stock reservoirs, assuaging drought conditions in more northerly states…. Read the full article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/commodities-fear-as-mighty-mississippi-runs-dry-in-drought-8434451.html