Association president says a one-inch loss of water decreases barge carrying capacity by 17 tons of cargo.
According to Tom Allegretti, president and CEO of the American Waterway Operators (AWO), the low-water levels resulting from severe drought conditions throughout the Midwest are a stark contrast to the historic flooding of 2011 but share the same potential for significant economic consequences. Allegretti’s statement came through the AWO, a 350-member trade association representing the nation’s tugboat, towboat and barge industry.
“The implications of the drought conditions and low-water levels are a one-two punch for the economy, impacting both the agricultural community and one of the major modes of transporting agricultural and other essential products,” Allegretti adds. “The nation’s waterways truly move the building blocks of what we as consumers use every day.”
Allegretti notes that both members of the association and staff have been working with the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers through the River Industry Executive Task Force (RIETF) to assess the impact of the low water and find ways to keep commerce moving safely.
Allegretti says every one-inch loss of water decreases the carrying capacity of a single barge by 17 tons of cargo.
“When you consider that a typical tow on the Upper Mississippi or Ohio Rivers has 15 barges, a one-foot loss of draft will decrease the capacity of that tow by 3,000 tons,” Allegretti says. “The tows on the lower Mississippi River are larger, consisting of 30-45 barges, resulting in decreased capacity of over 9,000 tons.”