Slow Mississippi River traffic hinders supply chainsSupply chains across the country may be being held up as a drought holds back traffic on the Mississippi River, one of the country's busiest waterways. Barges have been delayed due to low water levels and the situation could impact a plethora of companies who rely on the river to transport raw materials or finished products.

A potential solution in the works
The water in the Mississippi River is severely limited, as the drought that has plagued the Midwest for months continues on. Low water levels have been a problem for some time now, and Illinois lawmakers have stepped up to try to determine how to best handle the problem and ensure business can carry on as usual.

"We've been preparing for this since early summer, which means continuous collaboration with our partners the U.S. Coast Guard and the navigation industry to help provide a safe and reliable channel on the greatest, navigable watershed in the world," said General James Peabody, division commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division.

Peabody explained that in order to make it possible for barges to once again navigate the river without a problem, limestone will need to be removed from the waterway. Workers are currently removing submerged rocks to make the low water levels less of a hindrance to business.

However, the excavation of the rocks may also be halting some supply chains. Those that do choose to ship their goods via the river will find that river traffic is currently halted from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., meaning orders may be delayed even further.

Reworking supply chains because of the drought
Even if the excavation allows barge traffic to flow more normally in the coming weeks, some companies are still choosing to alter their supply chains and avoid barge shipments on the Mississippi for as long as possible. The low water levels have contributed to barges only being able to carry 60 to 70 percent of their normal loads, according to Bloomberg, limiting the amount companies can get to consumers via the river.

More industries are turning to other forms of transit, and rail and trucking operations may see an uptick in business due to the trouble on the Mississippi. Other companies may employ more strategic sourcing techniques to ensure the goods they procure aren't shipped via the river, as it could take longer to receive them, throwing off production cycles and potentially limiting future quantities of finalized products.
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