EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Barge owners are saying that commercial traffic on the Mississippi River could come to a halt by the end of the week.
In some places water levels have dropped ten feet in six months.
Near St. Louis, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dredging and blasting the river bottom to help keep shipping lanes open. Everything from oil to cement to chemicals, along with 60 percent of U.S. grain exports move down the Mississippi.
"We're already hearing about potential layoffs at manufacturing facilities...waterside and land-side facilities and just for January alone we're estimating that at least 8,000 jobs will be affected," said Debra Colbert of the Waterways Council.
Shippers and Midwest politicians have called on the Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily release water from the Missouri river to raise levels on the Mississippi.