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The Environment

The Mississippi River’s water level continues its downward trajectory, with substantial implications for agriculture and commerce in the American heartland. The depth is approaching a historic low last seen in 1988, and it is slowing barge traffic to a crawl.

The river gauge now sits at -8.9 feet at Memphis, three feet lower than it was last weekend, and there is little if any relief in the forecast. The water level at Memphis could approach -10 feet by the end of the month, according to a National Weather Service Forecast, and the extended forecast predicts below-normal precipitation throughout the Mississippi Basin for at least the next 30 days.

“There is no rain in sight, that is the bottom line,” Corps of Engineers spokesperson Lisa Parker told the Wall Street Journal. “The rivers are just bottoming out.” Read on.