Lower Water Levels in Rhine River

Amid the unusual hot and dry weather, water levels in the Rhine River have lowered down. Low water level is making it difficult for vessels to navigate through critical European shipping route when fully loaded.

Rhine River is an important shipping route for economy because;

  • It is a major route from products like grains to chemicals and coals. The river flows from Swiss Alps to North Sea through German industrial heartlands.
  • It acts as a significant link between industrial producers and global export terminals in North Sea ports including Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
  • But the water level is constantly decreasing. At the checkpoint of kaub, waterline level was 32 centimetres on August 15, 2022 as compared to 42 centimetres in previous week.

When water levels decrease, cargo vessels are forced to sail with lower load in order to avoid them running aground. Due to reduced water level, loading has reduced to about a quarter of regular amount for some shippers. Due to this, ships are required to transfer consignments that would fit into one vessel.

Preferred Water Level:

No specific water level has been put forward at which shipping stops. The river is not closed by authorities. Only vessel owners decide whether they can operate safely.

Impact of Lower Water Level:

The shipping hurdles due to low water level will further downgrade the German economy which is in trouble due to high inflation, high has prices and supply chain disruptions. Low water levels will might increase the costs of chemicals companies and encourage production cuts. To avoid this situation, companies are shipping more goods via road and rail routes.



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