Mississippi river water lows could increase cost of food, gas - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Mississippi river water lows could increase cost of food, gas

(WMC-TV) - This year's drought has forced the mighty Mississippi River to near all time record lows, and the low water could lead to a low balance in your bank account. 

The Mississippi River is the life line to many here in the Mid-South.

But an all time record low water level could force the closure of river traffic sometime next week.

"It's not so much that the Coast Guard or Corps of Engineers is going to shut down the river, it's that the tow boat equipment just will not be able to navigate," said Ken Erikson with Informa Economics.

Erikson has been monitoring the river's dangerously low levels all year.

He said if river traffic shuts down between Cairo, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri then people in Memphis will also feel the effects.

"If you're moving grain down to Memphis to President's Island - if they're hauling corn for processing or soybeans, it may be more costly," said Erikson.

Erikson said Memphis based companies like Valero and others will be forced to look at other ways to transport their goods.

Also, he said Memphians could see an increase in food and gas costs soon.

"They may have to put added surcharges on to items because there's an issue with the river and they have to pass on the costs at some point," said Erikson.

If river traffic shuts down between Cairo and St. Louis, that could affect some twenty thousand jobs and $130 dollars in wages.  

The Corps of Engineers said a river closure could happen as early next Thursday.  

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.
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