Waterway Update: The latest conditions along the Mississippi River & Panama Canal

Recent rainfall may bring good news for farmers trying to ship crops along the Mississippi River this harvest season. However, conditions are not looking quite as mighty for barges trying to make it through the Panama Canal.

Recent rainfall may bring good news for farmers trying to ship crops along the Mississippi River this harvest season. However, conditions are not looking quite as mighty for barges trying to make it through the Panama Canal.

The Mississippi River is now almost five feet above sea level in St. Louis, Missouri. To put that number in perspective—at this time last year, the river was -0.6 below sea level at the same point.

Some barge companies are increasing their loads due to the rise in water levels, but the Soy Transportation Coalition Director Mike Steenhoek says, many barges are still seeing restrictions between 15- and 25 percent.

Conditions are not getting any better along the Panama Canal though.

Much like the Mississippi, the canal has been facing challenges due to ongoing drought. The Panama Canal fills Gatun Lake, which is the reservoir that feeds fresh water to the canal locks. Over the past five years, the average water level on the lake during this month is 86 feet. Currently, the Panama Canal Authority measures it at 79 feet. This has led to less water being available for consumers and farmers and it is making shipping traffic slower and more expensive.

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