The Mississippi River's water level is dropping again and barge industry trade groups warn that river commerce could come to a halt as early as next week in an area south of St. Louis. The Coast Guard remains confident that the nation's largest waterway will remain open despite the worst drought in decades. Officials with the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council Inc. said Thursday that even if the river is open, further limits on barges will halt commercial traffic. The Army Corps of Engineers says ice on the northern Mississippi River is reducing the flow more than expected. The river level is expected to get to 3 feet at Thebes on Jan. 6, when new limits on barges could go into place. The Army Corps will continue work on the rock pinnacles to help open more of the channel to barges.
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