Mississippi River water levels are still at an all-time low near Memphis and set a record for the second straight year. The low levels are causing a twofold problem as barge traffic is still significantly disrupted, and saltwater is moving up the river in Louisiana, threatening drinking water supplies for thousands.
The National Weather Service recently said the water level at Memphis fell to a record-low elevation of minus 11.5 feet. This year’s record is significantly lower than last year. In October 2022, the Mississippi dropped to a minus 10.81 feet. Several other records were set at various stops along the river system, including Cairo, Illinois, on the Ohio River, which was at a level of minus 4.5 feet. New Madrid, Missouri, recently dropped to minus 6.4 feet.
The low water level is causing concern about barge traffic availability during the U.S. harvest when staple Midwest crops are transported to ports for shipping.