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Towing Companies Dealing With Drought

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(Memphis, TN) Back during the summer drought, we were told everything would be fine by October, but it’s turned out the drought is dragging on and still causing problems.

Right now, the biggest problems come from the Corps of Engineers holding back water in reservoirs along the Missouri river.

”They’re slowing down the water from over here and because of the drought we’re continuing to have problems from St. Louis to Cairo,” said Kevin Conway of Memphis-based Southern Towing.

But there have been problems near Memphis too.

Just last week some barges got stuck near Tunica’s Mhoon Landing.

Recent rain has made the problem better, but Conway says it’s only temporary, ”We have enough water in the river to support the tows until December 26th. After that, we’re gonna have to be making some alternate plans."

And those plans involve more boats and lots of extra cost.

Towing companies say they’ll have to stop barges at Cairo and St. Louis and use smaller, shuttle boats to take small loads up and downriver to either end where they’ll hook up with larger tows to continue their trip.

Conway also plans to divert loads to terminals along the deeper, Ohio river, but even that’s a temporary fix at best, ”Once the terminals are full, then at that point we may be having to tie up some tows”.

And that means little profit for anyone running products up and downriver and quite possibly higher prices for all of us.