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JIM SUHR
AP Business Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Mississippi River shippers say they're returning to handling full loads because the drought-ravaged waterway has benefited from winter storms and aggressive rock-clearing.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard say the crisis is over with the water level rising and rocks cleared to deepen the channel. The corps recently removed riverbed rocks from a treacherous stretch south of St. Louis, and it says recent snow and rain have helped raise the Mississippi.

Shippers late last year and in January reduced their loads with low water levels, and there were concerns barge traffic could be halted near St. Louis.

Still, the Army Corps says the same problems could re-emerge next winter because the nation's worst drought in decades is showing no signs of easing.

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