Commerce on the Mississippi River is in jeopardy of coming to a halt as early as next week. Water levels are nearing an all-time low not seen since 1956. A spokeperson from the American Waterways Operators says water levels are falling a lot faster than anyone anticipated, and they were hoping it would be mid-January before the situation got this bad.
The severity of the situation brought elected leaders and representatives from farming and the shipping industry together at a meeting in East Alton earlier this month. The blasting of granite pinnacles along a 15 mile stretch of the river near Thebes was supposed to buy the shipping industry some time, but Gen. John Peabody, Mississippi Valley Commander, Army Corps of Engineers, says months of drought has left the Mississippi 20 feet below normal, and is not sure if these fixes will do the trick. Nearly three-thousand jobs could be at risk if river traffic shuts down.