CINCINNATI - For most of us, the ebb and flow of the Ohio River may be known best for it's bobbing debris. For those on the river, the slow push of the river barge is news. Traffic is up two to three percent this year over last.
Bill Chapman with the Army Corps of Engineers says the additional activity is an economic boost for the entire region and keeps money in our pockets.
"The economy has improved a little bit for the navigation industry, so you're seeing a little bit more barge traffic, more commodities being pushed up and down the river system," Chapman said.
The additional traffic means our stretch of the river sees roughly 9,300 barge passages a year (Meldahl and Markland locks and dams combined) transporting more than 100 million tons of goods, almost all raw goods like grain, petroleum and coal.
Also being pushed along the river system, debris like tree branches and old tires. This time of year the river levels fluctuate, when we get more rain we see the levels increase, then slowly decrease settling debris along the banks.
"This time of year the river levels fluctuate, when we get more rain we see the levels increase then slowly decrease settling debris along the banks," said Chapman.
Despite what you see of the debris on the river, the environment is winning. There is less trash thanks to a milder winter and green friendly projects like the annual river sweep.
The two stories of additional barge traffic and river debris actually come together here at the Meldahl Dam. Much of the debris flows down stream and collects behind the gates and locks of the dam.
"The locks where the barge traffic goes through, drift and debris can get lodged in the machinery and gates and cause a problem for us being able to operate those gates and allow the barge traffic to move in and out," said Chapman.
If you would like to help keep the river clean, River Sweep 2012 takes place on June 16.
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