Low water on Rhine poses new menace to Germany’s economic system

Low water on Rhine poses new threat to Germany's economy


Water in the river has dropped to “exceptionally low” levels in some areas, disrupting shipping on the country’s most important inland waterway, German officials told CNN on Friday.

A lack of rainfall in recent months means that cargo ships are now carrying lighter loads, transport costs are soaring, and economic and power supply risks are worsening.

Last month, Germany’s Federal Institute of Hydrology warned that water flows at the Kaub gauge, located to the west of Frankfurt, were already at just 45% of average levels for this time of year. The agency said that had created “frequent obstructions” for ships.

Now, water levels are expected to fall even further before rising “very slightly” in the coming weeks, the Rhine Waterways and Shipping Authority said Friday.

The situation is reminiscent of 2018, when similar problems with the river led to a “standstill of freight shipping” and reduced German economic growth by an estimated 0.2%, according to Deutsche Bank economists.