A Decision Certain Not to Cause Waves

No-wake zone on popular section of Monongahela River long overdue

Morgantown Dominion Post - EDITORIAL
12 August 2011

A lot of boats can get rocked in the wake of some official resolutions. Not this one. As a matter of fact, a decision by Morgantown’s City Council last spring won’t cause a ripple. The resolution establishes a no-wake zone along a short span of the Monongahela River — from near the Westover Bridge to the Morgantown Lock and Dam. This decision is long overdue. Our chief concern is safety. WaveRunners and other kinds of fast-moving personal watercraft already don’t account for a lot of the river traffic in this area of the river. However, the numbers of kayakers, row boats, swimmers and fishermen are increasingly growing, and don’t have the means to move out of the way of dangerous waves and boats.

Also, not only is a no-wake zone good for recreational use of the river, but it also protects the shoreline and the boats moored at the public marina and dock near the city’s riverfront park. Though most boaters are considerate and take precautions not to swamp others, some don’t take responsibility for their wake and the damage it causes. And it’s not just that some wakes can dump people out onto the deck of their boats or in the water, but the potential exists for a collision to occur without a no-wake zone on a busy weekend. The Monongahela River’s shoreline is often subject to its own highs and lows — strong currents and occasional flooding. But as a rule the waves along its banks are generally soft and consistent in the area that’s been designated a no-wake zone. The harm to shorelines by the wakes of some boats is especially damaging in developed areas. This no-wake zone should also lend itself to increased visits to the marina in this area by non-motorized craft. There are miles and miles of the river where recreational boaters in powerful watercraft can range freely with wake-boarders and water-skiers in tow. This no-wake zone probably covers less than a mile of the river’s breadth. It’s not too much to ask that anyone wanting to embrace a calm outing on the river from the seat of a kayak or a canoe should be allowed to do so. As resolutions go, many are unenforceable or make no provision for enforcement. In this case take note: City Council gave both the police department and the Division of Natural Resources authority to enforce this rule. No-wake buoys should soon mark this zone on the river. Now, if we could just calm some of the traffic on land.