High water closes several Mississippi lock and dams, slowing barge businesses

WINONA, Minn. (FOX 47) – Rivers are high and on the rise, and it’s having an impact on Minnesota businesses.

That’s because navigation season which typically begins March is a month behind schedule.  Several locks and dams along the Mississippi River have closed because the water is too high. The first barges at Lock and Dam 4 made it through just this week.

“Normally this time of year, we have 200 to 250 barges in the harbor so this year is probably the latest I can remember for the river opening,” said Dan Nisbit, president of CD Terminal in Winona.

Like many who rely on the river to transport bulk products, the family-owned company carries fertilizer, salt, dried distillers grains, scrap metal, and other similar materials on its barges.

“I’m kind of fearful that we’re going to lose out on some business. Early spring, typically the fertilizer barges come upriver, and now they’re only able to make it up to the Illinois River, so they’re bringing the barges there and then trucking it up here,” he said.

Nisbit knows that having a business on the river means there are no detours. Forcing his business and others in the same boat to look to other modes of transportation.

As he points to the grain elevators next to his company, Nisbit explains that farmers who sell grain aren’t left with many options but to sell to ethanol plants to make ends meet.

“Every year is a different challenge on the river. This year was pretty unique, given the amount of snowfall we had,” he said.

And, it seems a late start to the season will likely get even later. Nisbit says he doesn’t expect to see normal river traffic until June.

Linda Ha

Linda Ha

Reporter | @LindaHaTV | lha@kttc.com

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