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Morgantown lock and dam trash eyesore

This problem has a history. Go to our Upper Mon River Association website,, and click on Floating Trash.

There is no safe, simple, cheap solution. A “trash wheel” with a purchase and installation price of about $1 million has been proposed. That would also require staffing and repairs, and mess up the Caperton Trail during construction.

It seems that paying a saltwater company with two employees, neither of whom appear to be an engineer, just to come look at our problem will be a waste of money. If Clearwater Mills LLC is confident its $850,000 machine will work in Morgantown, it should be able to find financing needed to work out the details.

The Restricted Zones immediately up and downstream of the dam are very hazardous. Buoys and signs are placed to warn boaters to stay out. The Corps of Engineers does not normally permit access to these areas.

Regrettably, it is best to let the trash pass through the dam gates. Ignore the natural trash (trees etc.). Then, when the river flow is calm, have small boats do shoreside and in-river pick-up of man-made, non-hazardous items. This might be done by a group of organized volunteers with their own boats. Tim Terman did such before he left the Morgantown area.

Hazardous wastes and bulky items (e.g., fuel tanks) might be pulled out by a small motorized barge, perhaps funded and operated by the City of Morgantown or the county commission. These items would then be unloaded at a shoreside location, though hazardous items may need special disposal. Non-hazardous trash would be sent to the county landfill.

The cost of the barge, shoreside collection facility, personnel, etc., will be considerable. And all that cost is for handling trash from high water events that happen perhaps  three times per year. This problem occurs throughout the country, and a practical economic solution has yet to be found.

Sad to say, but the best solution from a cost standpoint is to grit our teeth and let the dam trash flow downstream.

Don Strimbeck


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