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Fears that water levels on the Mississippi River could drop below the minimum 9-foot draft required by most towboats are being renewed by a hydrology report and NOAA forecast information received by Waterway Council, Inc. Senior Vice President Debra Colbert on January 15.
Colbert says, while the river might not dry up, the Mississippi could undergo an “effective shutdown” on or near February 9 because so few tugboats are able to operate without the minimum draft. She also says that economic damage has already been done; shippers in November 2012 expecting closures in December and January of this year played it safe and cancelled orders, which not only shut down certain channels of trade, but also threatened jobs, even though the river hasn’t been officially closed yet.
Colbert adds that the latest information she’s heard from the Army Corps of Engineers indicates their belief that they can keep the navigation channel open until the spring.