High rivers hurt businesses that rely on waterways

High river levels are hurting businesses that rely on local waterways. A local barge towing company says it’s putting extra time and money into delayed shipments.

If you see a white and orange tow boat between Cairo, Illinois, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, it’s most likely pushing barges for Tennessee Valley Towing. The boats can usually move 15 barges at once. Normal transit time is six days, but not right now.

"We spend a lot more money to shove a lesser amount of barges up the river," TVT Vice President Gordon Southern said.

Southern says because of the high river levels, the tow boats can move only half the barges. The trips take twice as long and use a lot more fuel.

"The customers are losing X amount of dollars per day plus the time of lost of being imported to unload," Southern said.

Not to mention with river closures over the past few weeks, the wait time they’ve had to pick up barges has gone up.

"I’m burning twice the fuel, so I mean the economic impact is pretty tremendous. Once you put it all together, it’s no fun to look at your PNLs," Southern said.

It’s a rough start to the new year. 

Southern says now that the river is coming down, boats will be able to increase their speed, and they will get everything where it needs to go.

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