Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's up at Opekiska Dam

My wife and I took a trip to the southwest portion of Monongalia County on Tuesday and stopped by Opekiska Dam. The photos (click them for closer view) I took show a lot of debris ready to come downriver to places like Morgantown. The trees and tree limbs are natural. But look closely at all the bottles, plastic, tires, etc. This shameful. What's worse, little is being done about it. (Please note the US flag and the Corps of Engineers flag flying over this mess across the river).

We try to clean up what we can during the summer months in the Morgantown area. But looking at this was disturbing and, I'll admit, disheartening. That we simply flush this down stream, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, is wrong. It's just wrong. That it's there in the first place is a statement about humans and their ways. It's there. It's waiting to come our way.

But here's the interesting point. There is a crane on top of the dam superstructure, right above this mess. That crane (see below) could dip this stuff up, deposit it on the shore for disposal - probably in two or three days of work. But guess what? The crane doesn't work. That's the word I received from a representative of the Corps of Engineers. So, status quo.

All this is coming down the river, down the river and out into the oceans. The Corps of Engineers doesn't have money to fix the crane, so there's no use discussing it. Seems like the same kinds of answers always come from that direction. Well, perhaps they always have the same kinds of funding problems. I don't know. But I'd be willing to get a petition drive going to get money to fix the crane and get this mess out of the river.

After working in the Morgantown area to clean up the litter since 2005, I now realize that the answer to the problem is here at Opekiska Dam. The litter should be removed here before it even heads down to Hildebrand and Morgantown. I should say the solution to the problem is to not have it in the river in the first place, but that's a long-term effort. For the short term, we need to do something here. And I believe the US Corps of Engineers should be part of the solutions.

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