Rhine Water Levels Reaching Critical Point Impacting Shipping

Rhine River drought
Sections of the Rhine are largely untouched while others are nearly dry (Twitter)

Published Aug 15, 2022 1:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

Water levels on the Rhine River especially in the lower and middle regions traveling through Germany are reaching critically low levels impacting the movement of vital commercial barges, inter-city transport, sightseeing, and cruise ships. Fears have been growing about the situation for most of the summer coming just four years after what experts had called a one in a hundred years record drought. There are little signs of much-needed rain to alleviate the problems.

Water levels west of Frankfurt at one of the lowest points in the river near the town of Kaub touched 30 cm (approximately 12 inches) on Monday, a level at which the authorities explain river traffic potentially reaches a standstill. Shallow-draft barges generally require levels between 30 and 35 cm to operate while the larger, fully loaded vessels need at least 1.5 meters (approximately 60 inches) for safe operations.

“The current water levels on the Middle and Lower Rhine are at an exceptionally low level for this time of year,” reports the Rhine Waterways and Shipping Authority. “For the next three to five days, it is predicted that the water levels on the Lower Rhine will fall by a further 5 to 10 cm. The water levels on the Middle Rhine remain mostly at a constant level.”

The authority explains that its water figure....

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