The drought is taking such a toll on the Midwest portion of the Mississippi river, that shipping could grind to a halt by the end of this week.
The shallow water between St. Louis, Missouri and Cairo, Illinois are making it tough for barges to move through that area.
"It affects everything," said Reynold Minksy, president of the 5th Louisiana Levee District. "It affects the commerce that's going down to the ports of New Orleans it comes down half loaded than fully loaded."
He says this affects Midwest commerce and farmers, who can't ship as much material down to the port of New Orleans for export.
In Illinois, the U.S. Army corps of engineers is dredging, and blasting the river bottom to help keep shipping lanes open.
"This drought is horrible up in the Midwest," he said. "And that's what's affecting everything above St. Louis. -- not being able to get the grain down to New Orleans to export it."
But despite the issues impacting the north end of the river, operations at Lake Providence have improved since the dredging in September.
"For the most part, the river has been okay from Cairo -- south," Minsky said. "It's been high enough that we're able to steadily use it now."
"In the summer of 2012, a lot of the water in the area around the port was dried up, exposing the sandy bed. Minsky says dredging, and the rains locally and across the Ohio and Tennessee basin helped fix that problem.
"Had we not had the dredging, we wouldn't have been able to move this grain out of the Delta," he said.
The Lake Providence port closed last June due to low water levels in the Mississippi river.
"The reason we have water down here today down in the lower ms is because of the rain that occurred in the Ohio valley and Tennessee, " Minsky said.
Kavanaugh Brazeale with the Army corps of Engineers says the level at the Vicksburg gauge is 20.5 feet. It was as low as one to five feet in the summer.
"The river generally begins to rise a little in November, December and January, and on through the spring," Minsky said.
Minksy says if the problems persist up north, it could have a big affect on the export industry in New Orleans -- which could ultimately affect Louisiana.
"it's hard to tell what this river is going to do," he said. "Nobody controls this river."