Robert L. Gall
Riverside Marine Co.
Route 1, Box 239
Maidsville WV 26541
July 11, 2000
The Honorable Senator Robert C. Byrd
311 Senate Hart Office Bldg.
Washington DC 20510
We have a potential tragedy in the making here with the upper Monongahela River system. This as you know has been caused by the demise of the coal and chemical industry in the area which has reduced the barge traffic to almost zero.
It is obvious that the Corps. of Engineers are bound by law to apportion their operational and maintenance funds on the basis of CURRENT RIVER TONNAGE in a particular area.
It seems to the author however that this priority does not exist on the Intercoastal water way extending from New York to Brownsville Texas, nor to the harbors and beaches in the same area. This water way with few exceptions is primarily used for pleasure boating except in the port areas.
Apparently there is no priority allocated to the inland waterways. This is a flaw that should be corrected, especially in the case of the Monongahela River in W. Va. where the Locks and Dams are relatively new on a relative basis and at a cost of 5-600 million dollars.
West Virginia and local agencies have spent millions on the installation of sewer disposal systems and on the reduction of mine acid drainage into the river which has made it a premier game fishing river. It now hosts many fishing tournaments with competition from many states. The loss of the use of the upper 20 miles of river would be a tragedy and could conceivably lower the water table in that whole section of river valley.
What the Corps of Engineers did not say in their response to your inquiry is that without the funding they will ultimately bolt open the dam gates leaving the river level down to its original level, which would create a wide creek out of the upper 20 miles of river. We must get a law passed that will furnish the funding to preclude such a thing, one that gives recreational and potential industrial development some priority.
/s/ Robert L. Gall, Owner, Riverside Marine Co.