Passage of ships and barges along the Mississippi River, one of leading rivers of United States and Canada has been disrupted as water levels nearing record lows cause barges to get stuck in mud and sand, likely creating another snag for the supply chain.
The U.S. Coast Guard said that at least eight barges remained grounded last week in the river.
The river is the second largest water shed in the world connects 33 states in United States besides two provinces in Canada. It carries on an average 175 million tons of freight annually.
One of the groundings happened between Louisiana and Mississippi, near Lake Providence, Louisiana. It halted river traffic in both directions for days, forcing dozens of barges to line up and wait to pass by.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dredged the Mississippi at several spots to keep river traffic flowing in some areas from Missouri south through Louisiana. Low-water restrictions were also placed on barge loads, slowing down transport.
Much of the Mississippi River basin, from Minnesota through Louisiana, has seen below-normal rainfall since late August. The basin from St. Louis south has been largely dry for three months, according to the National Weather Service.
Experts say the delays couldn’t come at a worse time as barges carry harvested corn and soybeans along the river.