Lock and Dam Garbage Released

Volunteers collect trash from Mon River

Morgantown Dominion Post
14 June 2011
By Alex Lang

Meg Ayers and Tina Griffith pick up a floating tire from thre Mononhahela after trash was released from Morgantown Lock and Dam.  Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post photo

Minutes after water and trash began pouring from Morgantown Lock and Dam and down the Monongahela River, Tim Terman and the volunteers on his boat headed toward the debris.

Bottles, tires, a flower pot, a football, pieces of foam and other items floated in the river.

“My advice is, don’t be distracted by the tiny things,” Terman told his crew as they hit the first grouping of trash. “Get the big stuff, get the big stuff.”

After a few misses, crew members got the hang of the grabbers and became pros, picking piece after piece out of the water.

Scott Lemons and Josh Dyer add to the collection of debris that they pulled from the river.   Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post photo

By the end of the day, volunteers had plenty to show for their efforts. The haul included roughly 50 bags of trash, 18 tires and some miscellaneous items.

Wednesday was the first time public notice was given about the release of water and trash from behind the lock and dam. When water is released from the dam, the trash that builds up behind it is swept through.

After the release, the trash came floating down the river, spanning from bank to bank. Members of the WVU crew team’s coaching staff showed up to help. BOPARC also helped in the cleanup efforts. The Solid Waste Authority will collect the garbage bags, which were left on Walnut Street, Terman said. WVU senior Josh Dyer said he was doing it as part of the community service element for his senior project. “I’m shocked [by] how much trash there is,” he said.

Some of the items, such as soda and beer bottles, plastic foam and chewing tobacco tins, weren’t a surprise, Dyer said. But other items, such as tires, seemed odd to find in the river.

Terman said the work could be made easier by the addition of a few relatively inexpensive aids.

For instance, floating litter booms could prevent the garbage from traveling down the river, he said. Terman said it would cost a few thousand dollars to put a few in the river.

He called on local agencies or residents to find funding for booms.

But the booms weren’t in place for Wednesday’s cleanup, and crews had to navigate the river and collect the trash. They didn’t get it all, but Terman said they made a good dent. It is probably going to take two or three more trips to clean the area along the Wharf District.

“I’m real pleased, [if] you come look in Morgantown Harbor, it looks pretty good,” Terman said.