(Bloomberg) -- The water level on the Rhine River at the key waypoint of Kaub dropped to a critical 40 centimeter (15.75 inch) mark as Europe’s blistering summer shrivels the artery.

At this level and below, it becomes uneconomical for many barges that haul commodities like diesel and coal to sail through that part of the river, according to Germany’s Federal Institute for Hydrology. 

About 160 million tons of goods and commodities were hauled along the Rhine in 2020, ranging from chemicals to iron ore to oil products. Low water levels restrict the transport of goods along the waterway by limiting how much barges can carry without scraping against the riverbed.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.