The low water forecast along the Mississippi River this winter has barge companies scrambling to ship product early to beat the rush. It takes about 28 days to move coal or grain from New Orleans to Chicago. A-E-P River Operations out of Saint Louis is operating at 55-percent capacity these days due to the low water. A normal 25 barge tow is now down to 15. Company spokesman Martin Hettel tells KZIM KSIM the barge industry moves about 8-point-8-million tons of products from Saint Louis to Cairo every month. Hettel says they are working to get their equipment out of the River before the level falls to minus-4-feet at Saint Louis, forecasted by next Wednesday. The level at Cape is down to 6-feet, expected to drop to 2-feet by early January. The Army Corps predicts low water through at least February.
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