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(AP) - LOW WATER: A year after the Mississippi River swelled to near-historic levels, the river's southern half is so low that barges have run aground and operators have been forced to lighten their loads.

BLAME THE WEATHER: One reason for the difference is a lack of rainfall in the Ohio River valley and the north Mississippi River Basin. Sections of Tennessee and regions to the north are experiencing drought conditions.

ECONOMIC LIFELINE: Millions of tons of goods are shipped every year on the Mississippi. Some end up as exports departing from Louisiana ports.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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