Falling River Causes Rising Concern

A lack of rain up North is causing some river navigation problems around here. 
Tows are having a hard time pushing barges. To give you an idea of how bad it is, the river fell 2.5 feet at Cape Girardeau  in one day, and is supposed to fall almost 2 feet more by Saturday, January 18.  
Near Ste. Genevieve Wednesday, several barges became grounded on a sand bar, and it took hours of work to break them free. Thankfully there were no injuries, damages, or spills. This is one of three groundings over the last two days -- all closer to St. Louis than Cape. But it's bad enough that the Coast Guard issued a safety advisory all the way down to Cairo.
They've limited how deep a barge can sink into the water from 9 -- to 8.5  feet.  And cut back the number of barges that can be pushed. It's not uncommon for a tow to push 36 barges North -- that's almost 2 football fields wide, and four deep. But now, it's limited to 24 Northbound, and 20 South.
That means it's taking more trips to deliver the same amount of goods, which pushes a barge company's costs higher. One client at the Semo Porth Authority in Scott City says they're nervously following river stages very closely.
But even as the river is falling, the Army Corp of Engineers says it's not dredging the river around here yet.
And the low water is affecting some gamblers, as well.  The Casino Queen is docked on the Illinois side of the river near St. Louis.  It voluntarily closed Tuesday to have the river dredged, and won't open again until Thursday.