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Rhine water level threatens to fall below critical point

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Daniel Neiman Frank Jordan

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — German officials said on Wednesday that water levels in the Rhine will reach a very low point in the next few days. It is becoming increasingly difficult to transport commodities along the river, including coal and gasoline, which it said could be possible.

Weeks of dry weather have trickled some of Europe's major waterways, creating headaches for German factories and power plants that rely on ship deliveries.

German Transport Ministry spokesman Tim Aleksandrin said, "This is especially true for the Rhine, where the bottleneck for navigation on the Kaub is very low water levels, but for ships with small drafts. is still navigable," he said.

Officials expect water levels in Kaub to drop below 40 centimeters (16 inches) early on Friday and continue to drop over the weekend. Although this is still higher than the record low of 27 cm observed in October 2018, many large ships will sail the river at its location roughly halfway along the Rhine between Koblenz and Mainz. You may have trouble getting through safely.

"The situation is very dramatic, but still not as dramatic as it was in 2018," said Christian Lorenz, spokesman for German logistics company HGK.

Due to the lack of watercraft to carry salt downriver from Heilbronn to Cologne, normally he could carry 2,200 metric tons (2,425 US tons) of cargo, but now about He said it can only transport 600 tons.

"Of course, we hope shipments don't stop, but in 2018, when the water level was so low, the petrol stations suddenly ran out of fuel because ships couldn't pass," he said. says Lorenz.

Authorities are taking steps to shift more freight traffic to the rail network, prioritizing the rail network if necessary, a Department of Transportation spokesman said. Mr Alexandrine said.

On the other hand, HGK and other shipping companies say that global warming will make droughts more severe, depleting water along the Rhine and making low levels like this year more common. Prepare for "normal". From the Swiss Alps to the North Sea.

"There is no denying climate change and the industry is adapting to it," Lorenz said.

All new ships ordered by the company will be built with the aim of making them suitable for the low water levels of the Rhine, he said.


Jordan reported from Berlin.