USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Low Water on the Mississippi Slows Critical Freight Flows

Monday, November 21, 2022

Low water on the Mississippi River south of its confluence with the Ohio River affects a vital link for freight movement. In 2020, the river carried more than half of the 165.5 million tons that moved between the 12 states touching the Upper Mississippi System and Louisiana. The percentage of freight carried by the river to Louisiana is much higher for some states: 92 percent for Indiana, 81 percent for Missouri, 80 percent for Illinois, and 75 percent for Kentucky. Of the 12 states, Illinois shipped the most freight to Louisiana in total (55 million tons) and by water (44 million tons) in 2020. Cereal grain accounted for 43 percent of the total tonnage between Illinois and Louisiana, and other agricultural products accounted for 26 percent. The river carried 93 percent of the cereal grain between Illinois and Louisiana, compared to 6 percent by rail, and the river carried 82 percent of other agricultural products between those two states, compared to 15 percent by rail and 3 percent by truck.

Infographic of Waterborne Freight on the Mississippi River


Learn more about the impact of low water on crucial Midwest freight flows at