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ST. LOUIS — A revised Mississippi River forecast offered a bit of a reprieve for shippers Wednesday, showing the water level isn’t dropping as quickly as feared. Still, at least two large barge companies already are reducing their loads because of concerns about the river’s depth.

Months of drought have left the Mississippi near historic low levels, a problem worsened last month when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduced the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam, thus lessening the amount of water that drains into the Mississippi where the rivers converge near St. Louis.

The river at St. Louis on Wednesday was about 13 feet deep. The Coast Guard has said further restrictions on barge traffic — most notably in a 180-mile stretch between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. — are likely if the river dips to around 9 feet, though the decision is based on observation of conditions and not the level on the gauge.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports