Mississippi barges post-drought: Rollin' on the river

A barge moves along the flooded Mississippi River after barge traffic was allowed to resume on May 18, 2011 in Natchez, Miss.

Last summer's drought that continued through the winter wasn't just bad news for ranchers and farmers. There were big worries about what it would mean to the Mississippi River, too.

Low water and heavy boats meant bad news for barge operators who relied on high water levels to ferry goods from North to South.

"After the past couple of years we've had, I think we're enjoying the average water levels now," said Austin Golding, who has been running river barges his whole life out of Vicksburg, Miss. "I think you're going to see this have a very positive effect on the cost of goods that move across the country."

Golding said he and other barge pilots have weathered through drought and floods for the past few years. No matter what the weather, "we have to maintain business as usual."

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Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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Whoa, cowboy!! Who said that the drought was over?!! We're in year three of the drought in Texas and surrounding states and in year two for the rest of the Plains and Rockies. If you don't believe me, check out the official drought monitor site, http://www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu/ No end in sight... Mississippi River flows may be up, but I'd venture to say that it's not because the drought in the Plains and Rockies is over. ...and this is really a BAD drought.

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