Bloomberg News

Midwest Drought Reduces Commodity Barge Deliveries, AWO Says

July 20, 2012

Drought in the Midwest has lowered water levels on U.S. rivers, reducing the amount of commodities such as coal, corn and petroleum products that can be shipped, the American Waterways Operators said today.

Every 1-inch loss of water decreases the carrying capacity of a barge by 17 tons of cargo, and losing one foot of draft results in a loss of 204 tons of cargo capacity per barge, the Arlington, Virginia-based group said in an e-mailed statement.

Barges are used to ship about 60 percent of U.S. grains, 22 percent of domestic petroleum products and 20 percent of coal used for electricity generation, according to the most recent data from the agency.

The organization said that it’s working with the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate the situation.

A loaded tank barge can hold 27,500 barrels of gasoline, according the AWO.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mario Parker in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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