Low Water - Slow Boats

Bruce Krasting's picture


The following pictures are of the Mississippi from this year and last. The 2012 drought has lowered the river level.






The water level is down as much as 40 feet from a year ago.



Its so dry, grass is growing on the sandbanks.



The low water is raising hell with the river traffic. Some headlines:







How big a deal is this? Big. ABC put the potential hit to the economy at $300Mn a day. As many as 400k jobs are in play. The have a quote from the Army Corps of Engineers suggesting the problem is not going away anytime soon.



I was surprised to learn that 90% of the nation's waterborne commercial deliveries are on the Mississippi.


The Army Corps got its forecast of "no relief" from NOAA. The 30 day forecast shows a continuation of the dry conditions in the center of the country. There is no reason to be optimistic looking at the 90 day outlook.




The only winners in this story are the rail-roads. Everyone else will pay a bit more. In some cases there might be shortages (rock salt/chemicals up north). Global grain, corn and bean supplies may get disrupted. Add another few percent to the already skyrocketing price of raw food stocks.




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Seer's picture

And think about all those rich white "good" businessmen who were supporting all this carnage.

Gotta wonder who raped your mother...

Disenchanted's picture



"Think the Soviet Union and starving 6 million Ukrainians"


Freddie you forgot to add that it was them damned towel head Muslims leading the Bolsheviks. /s

otto skorzeny's picture

"weather predictors" huh? Uncle Sam will print a bunch of $ and dole it out to the "woe is me" farmers. don't make $ in farming-quit-but stop asking for bailouts.

tip e. canoe's picture

"Uncle Sam will print a bunch of $ and dole it out to the "woe is me" farmers."

strings attached of course

azusgm's picture

Gotta already have crop insurance or no drought disaster relief for you. Heard this straight from a USDA agent last week.

BTW, crop insurance favors GMO crops.

ZackAttack's picture

Huge deal. About a quarter of US exports and half of Europe's grain pass through here and to the Port of Southern Louisiana. There's a very time-critical window in September when the crop has to move, or alternate arrangements made.

Could get very, very hungry around the world this winter. Probably not in the US this year, but one more bad year and we will be in huge trouble.

disabledvet's picture

The bulk of US rail runs east west I believe. Canada however has a big North/South route...

NEOSERF's picture

Looks like we need 400K more shovels to give to people who need jobs to start dredging...quinine bitchez

booboo's picture

Cue up the "Peak Water" eco freaks demanding that you shit in a bucket, shower in your own piss and demand that meters be installed on all private residential wells.

Momma Earth does what she wants, when she wants to, to whom ever she want to do it to despite our best predictive hand waving and screaming. By next spring the Mississippi Valley may be battling for their lives and property shoring up levies and traveling down main street in 12' flat bottom boats to aquire a 12 pack of Old Style.


Seer's picture

"demand that meters be installed on all private residential wells."

Already have mine installed, thank you.  I think that there's nothing wrong with KNOWING what your personal consumption is: yes, I know that you're thinking that THEY are going to do it to YOU, but I want to make sure that people don't accept this idea that they shouldn't know what their own usage it (comes in handy for lots of reasons).

Disenchanted's picture



Guess what...barge traffic doesn't do so well on a flooded river either...


Mississippi River flooding hurts port
Barge traffic to be down sharply for May (2011)
Freddie's picture

......traveling down main street in 12' flat bottom boats to aquire a 12 pack of Old Style.

LOL!  I love the eco terrorists aka friends of Saudi Arabia/islam aka no drilling here for Allah Barrack.

I love how they think man affects this or that.  Go try to affect a volcano, hurricane, or the ocean's tides.  Try to affect a big front moving from the west to east in the USA - these fronts push a hurricane around like a toothpick.   

PiratePawpaw's picture

They tried to meter private wells last year here in rural N Texas.

After record turn outs at the county meetings and some "heated" discussions; they decided it wasnt practical at this time.

Seer's picture

Yeah, I think that BIG consumers should be able to get all that they can, even if that means that it runs the aquifers low to the point that others can't reach the water table... [but, if the community is well involved (ha ha- pun!) in the discussion and has clear influence (rather than the many dog and pony shows that happen that make it look like a community is being able to voice itself), then good!]

Big govt, Big business, either one is going to screw you: and Big business usually does it via govt.  I know of one state that created a law that enabled local municipalities to have control of their water.  MANY people were screaming that the State was trying to control their water.  In actuality, the intent and wording of the law as I read it was that its primary intent was to give local communities more power over their water; it would allow locals to say whether they want to allow any big entities to drain their water (lots of water bottling companies doing this); the downside, of course, is that the business lobbyists latch on to an existing law and have it reworked to their advantage.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I have a friend on Whidbey Island and their well was metered last year. I'd be challenged to keep the shotgun out of Mr Miffed's hands if they were to do that here. I guess Washingtonians are easier to roll over than Texans.


Seer's picture

One word: Rainwater.  Those islands are shit for water: this is likely why the community opted to meter.

As I'd noted before, I once had a neighbor who bitched about property taxes and then didn't think anything of leaving his hose running down his driveway and down the street.  We were on municipal water and it wasn't metered.  HE didn't have to pay for any excess.

I've got my own water supply, and while I have plenty, I can state that it ISN'T free.  It does cost to run pumps and replace filters (not to mention repairs/replacement of main components to the delivery system).

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Agree Seer, it's is not free! I live in San Diego county and have been on a well for 11 years. We are extremely frugal with our water, some drought resistant landscape around our house and a small garden and some fruit trees.Our well produces 35 gal/min which is fabulous for our area. Our neighbors practice water usage similarly, we all have no lawns. 5 miles away a large acreage was sub divided to 4 acre plots and sold to some very wealthy people for weekend homes. Up went 5000-7000 sq foot custom homes and $200,000 landscaping. One woman put in almost 2 acres of verdant Kentucky blue grass. We live in a arid climate. The natural fauna is Mansanita and sage. A friend of mine told me in 3 years the water table has dropped 400 feet in their area. The solution for these people? More wells. The 2 acre lawn lady is on her fourth now. These A holes are locusts, they rape the land and move on when they can't squeeze out a drop more. I'm terrified they will affect our water. If so it will cost us about $600/month to fill our cistern...that cost wouldn't faze them but it's significant to us. Why do we all have to be metered? Why not just the shit head idiots! Sorry for the rant, this topic is a little too close to home.


azusgm's picture

In central Texas, a couple of the newspapers published the names of the top residential water users and confronted those folks for statements for the record.

Darned brilliant.

Iam_Silverman's picture

"I guess Washingtonians are easier to roll over than Texans.


Well, when they force you into a Groundwater Management Association, like they did us, just remember your basic rights under Texas law.  When they inform you that you have to register your well (and all registration fees are waived as it will be grandfathered), remember to NOT sign the application, and instead note that the signature is on the attached sheet.  The attached addendum should note that by registering your well with the GWMA you DO NOT waive your rights under the Texas Rule Of Capture.  It will piss them off, and they will threaten to not allow a permit for any well re-working or repair on your property.  Ask them to put that statement in writing.  Besides, I pointed out that I can go and rent the equipment myself and not worry with their permitting and oversight.  They really don't have any enforcement authority, and they know it.

Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

Unknown as to why you were junked for this post, booboo. Well done. Climate is dependent upon many meterological variables, and is, frankly, cyclical.

Feast or famine, as it were. Next year, the levees pictured in the satellite images could well be tested by high water...and man has not a whit to do with it.

Winston of Oceania's picture

The Egyptians were finished as a superpower by drought long after they escaped that very same fate by setting something aside. As a nation we have yet to learn that lesson and prepare for our own "seven years of lean".

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

There were >1000 years between King Tut's time and Cleopatra. During that time, almost all trade stopped and the vibrant economy ground to a halt. They said it was because "the money system got corrupted".

But you're right, it was drought that finally did them in. Climate change. The whole Sahara used to be one big forest. Egypt was the granary of the Roman Empire.

Quinvarius's picture

Certainly more regulation and taxes can solve this.  Why are you attacking the obvious solution?

Seer's picture

Not in defense of whomever it is that you're referring as having attacked, but...

As noted above by myself, one State gave local communities more say so over their water.  MANY stated that the State was trying to control their water.  People just seem to get a lot of shit wrong.

While I agree that more "regulation" (which really means the lobbyists had more control) and more "taxes" won't solve things.  I also realize that allowing big business to "fix" things ain't going to happen either.  We're just kind of fucked that way...  Until it all settles down, however, it's a good idea to care for your water sources (and not fuck those of your neighbor's up)- got nothing to do with any "program" or "regulations," it's just plain common sense.

diogeneslaertius's picture

pressure from below via logistics and pressure from above via unconstitutional money et al.

q99x2's picture

Turn the Mississippi into a freeway and the traffic jams will come.

Freddie's picture

Fill in the mighty Mississippi and run high speed rail for union jobs like Callie-Porn-ia. 

This summer has been all El Nino.  Libtards will tell you global warming.

Seer's picture

I recall challenging a local GOP runner why "I" should support his idea of highspeed rail (to another state).  He lost the "debate" badly, ending up with asking me why I wasn't running for office.

I guess that I could label of GOPers as idiots, but I'm not stupid (though I do detest all party pussies).

You'd be the King, one-eyed Freddie, in the land of the blind.

earnulf's picture

It's not just the Mississippi that is low, many of the midwest waterways are in dire straits (no pun intended) but the fact is that the railroads can't begin to ship the volume that goes up and down the mississippi.   They don't have the railcars or the track miles to do it.     No matter how many tons of product CSX ships on a gallon of diesel, they just don't have the capacity.     

Basic Economics, smaller loads = higher prices.   Fewer crops=higher prices.   Are we seeing a trend yet?


Seer's picture

"Are we seeing a trend yet?"

Yes, per Fruitless Freddie the Muslims are doing this (something about electing Obama, and the loss of white supremacy- hard to make it all out really).

Anyway... it's why I'm going into farming, so I can help feed my community (while Freddie continues to sit behind a computer and pound keys trying to form some meaningful message to the White world).

MrBoompi's picture

The drought is severe, there is no doubt about that.  But last summer we had a lot of water that was released from reservoirs up north and actually caused flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  Therefore the comparison pictures, and the water levels, are misleading and seem more shocking than they normally wouild be if compared to a "normal" year.

MrBoompi's picture

The drought is severe, there is no doubt about that.  But last summer we had a lot of water that was released from reservoirs up north and actually caused flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  Therefore the comparison pictures, and the water levels, are misleading and seem more shocking than they normally wouild be if compared to a "normal" year.

Seer's picture

I thought that it would be instructive to see pictures from previous years as well.

Shipping numbers should somewhat be able to back things up.  Perhaps some pictures from 2009, after the Great Recession really kicked in: there'd have to be an extra big drop in traffic there.

NotApplicable's picture

I was thinking that too, but if you look at the 2011 picture above, it isn't a flood pic (there are visible sand-bars within the river bed).

I'm starting to see some of the major creeks that feed the rivers stop flowing, with the trees along the banks losing their leaves as long as a month ago. When my dogs run through the woods, they kick up a trail of dust.

LongSoupLine's picture



I hear Oblama has a shovel ready program to add water to the Mississippi.  He just needs Congress to pass the bill and...aww, crap, Congress is going to stop him from massive progress again!!

GeezerGeek's picture

This must be Obama's fault. In 2008, I think it was, he promised to stop the waters from rising. Or was it the seas? Anyway, his plans have once again had a detrimental effect. Instead of water levels falling in the seas, they've fallen in the Mississippi. Way to go, Barry!

I say we bring back Slick Willie. In his first year in office the Mississippi had more than enough water. Maybe he could pull that off once again. At any rate, this is one area in which I can find no reason to bash Bush.

Iam_Silverman's picture

"This must be Obama's fault."

What, are you Mitt Romney practicing for his first year in office?  Remember, Obama is still the president, so it's Bush's fault!  (just ask the president).

Mad Mad Woman's picture

The river is soon reaching all-time record low water mark. Yikes!!

Lohn Jocke's picture

Corn being harvested in the Memphis region is being shipped north to Peoria etc. New Orleans Gulf corn values are at a royal disconnect from other origin corn. NOLa +35, Santos Brazil -35, Argentine corn is -65, black sea corn is -35. Just a matter of time until we import corn and crash the nearby futures in the market. Don't bearspread by any means, but don't get too long the Sep/Dec either.

Can anyone say print more aflatoxin?

Freddie's picture

....being shipped north to Peoria...

That is ADM's corn to be made into corn syrup that will be found in much of what you eat.  

NotApplicable's picture

Yet another government sponsored disaster called ethanol. Better yet, they're getting ready to increase the amount in the blend by 50%.

Cars will be lucky to last until the end of their warranty. Then there's all of the hungry rioters around the world.

All thanks to lawyers buying and selling influence.

Seer's picture

"Yet another government sponsored disaster called ethanol."

Two words: Farm Bill

Do people realize that it was the FIRST Farm Bill that gave us this (source: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=State_of_national_emergency):

"When Congress declares an emergency, there is no Constitution..."

"The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 [commonly referred to as the "Farm Bill"], a curse to farmers for so many years, was a key piece of legislation in these emergency powers, for it took the power to coin and regulate money away from congress (as provided in the Constitution) and gave it to the president. Tracing back through the archives, further investigation showed how emergency government was simultaneously implemented in all states through a highly coordinated effort coming straight down from FDR and the federal government. Emergency government, outside the bounds of the Constitution, has now been the norm for more than 64 years, according to the Senate's own study."
NidStyles's picture

When they raise it by 50% I will start working on a turbine hybrid car. It'll burn just about anything and be steady state. No need for batteries, just super-capacitors. 

azusgm's picture


No ETOH inside.

TSA gropee's picture

Excellent! So in the near future I can buy a modified Delorean with a flux capacitor? =)

phyuckyiu's picture

Limecat is pleased with this joke.

bankruptcylawyer's picture

what --50% !? 

hard to believe, link please. 

this seems significant if true.