Iowa Public Television


Midwest Drought Takes Toll on Barge Operators

posted on August 12, 2005

As the Midwest's worst drought in 17 years continues to lower inland rivers, barge operators continue to hope for rain to help buoy their cargoes, as well as their bottom lines.

"We were supposed to have scattered thunderstorms here (this week), but I'm looking at nothing but blue skies right bow," said Larry Daily president of Alter Barge Lines Inc., in Bettendorf, Iowa.

The summer-long drought has squeezed the company's fleet of 300 barges and six towboats. Because of lower water levels in the Mississippi River, the firm has had to trim payloads by about six inches per barge -- or about 100 tons apiece -- to clear shallow spots along the river.

Daily said the lighter loads could cost his company about $300,000 per month.

Tags: agriculture boats drought news rivers weather