Watershed Event on Mon River

Efforts to clean up trash at lock and dam merit assistance by area and community

Morgantown Dominion Post - EDITORIAL
17 June 2011

It’s said: If you follow the river, you’ll find the sea. It also could be said: If you follow the trash in any of the Monongahela River’s tributaries — flowing out of 10 counties — you’ll find the Morgantown Lock and Dam. Earlier this week, the lock and dam released a flood of trash, like it’s done several times a year for more than 60 years.

Everything from the ubiquitous bleach bottles to tires, basketballs, chunks of Styrofoam and smokeless tobacco tins spanned the river’s banks as it flowed downstream. But this time it was different. This time someone was waiting to clean it up.

After receiving public notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, members of the Upper Monongahela River Association (UMRA) met the flood of floating trash and collected more than 50 bags of debris and 18 tires. It might be premature to call this a watershed event, but it appears that’s what it was: A clear change of course on cleaning up this river. Not only did the Corps of Engineers and the UMRA assist this project, but the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners (BOPARC) of Morgantown and the county’s Solid Waste Authority (SWA) joined in, too. Other volunteers included WVU’s crew team. Though organizers of this effort had good reason to tout their success, it’s clear they need some help.

One item organizers mentioned needing are floating litter booms to corral this trash before it sails out of sight or is enmeshed in brush along the river’s banks. We call on our city and county’s leaders to review this request and help fund the purchase of these booms, if the costs are reasonable. Stipends for fuel would also seem appropriate to help UMRA cover its costs. Not only is this trash ugly and polluting our waterways, but it also creates a hazard for wildlife. Furthermore, everyone should understand that this trash stymies the flow of other kinds of streams, too: revenue streams. A trash-free river helps tap the regional tourism industry and the local entertainment and hospitality industry here. And not only does a clean river invite boating, fishing and swimming, but it also weighs into businesses’ and visitors’ decisions to relocate here. There are many measures of the quality of life here, but a vital one that’s often overlooked or taken for granted is the health of the Monongahela River. We are now at a turning point on the Mon River where it bends or we do. It’s time to stop his trash — that backs up behind the lock and dam — from ever reaching the sea.


The Dominion Post strives to publish balanced, accurate, responsible and fair information. If a factual error does occur, a correction or clarification will be published in this space. Errors should be brought to the attention of Editor Geri Ferrara, 304-291-9425 or editor@dominionpost.com, as soon as possible following publication.

Tim Terman organized and directed this week’s effort to pull trash from the Monongahela River after the Army Corps of Engineers lowered the dam and released it. His efforts were not included in an editorial published Friday.