Low water causing more problems on the Mississippi River

The low water levels on the Mississippi River is getting increasing attention. And now even Illinois Lt. Governor Shelia Simon is weighing in on the topic.

Besides Simon, there are many politicians from the Midwest who are voicing their opinion and even some barge companies are having to change the way they do business.

One local company that utilizes barges to transport their project now has a limited window in which to ship its product before the shipping season comes to a close.

Gerald Jenkins, is the general manager at the Ursa Farmer's Co-op and just about two weeks ago he ordered 30 barges so he could load grain and get it shipped. But he says the low water conditions have even put a pinch on what his business can do.

"Barge operators and the system itself really don't know from one minute to the next how they can load those barges because the river is at such extremely low conditions. Naturally they have to load them efficiently but the don't know what efficient is each and everyday because of the low levels," Jenkins said.

To compare how much grain a barge can hold compared to a semi trailer or even a rail car. Jenkins says it would take 60 semi trucks to fill one barge. So he wants to make sure that every inch of available space on a barge is utilized to make sure they can operate as efficiently as possible.

"People that run commodities and follow transportation know that any time you can only utilize that container two-thirds, costs go up and efficiencies are lost," Jenkins said.

For now, Jenkins hopes that federal officials will step in and make sure the flow of the Missouri River stays where it's at or even increases so that the Mississippi River below St. Louis doesn't become impassable for barge traffic.