Not-so-lazy rivers slow down boating enthusiasts

Mary Ann Thomas
| Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 9:13 a.m.

As major rivers are running about a foot higher than usual in the Pittsburgh region, the National Weather Service forecasts that the Allegheny and Ohio rivers could drop roughly a foot by the weekend.

However, the Army Corps of Engineers said it could take a week for the water to drop and to clear.

Although they are not at flood stage, local rivers are running swift and high, much like they do in the spring, according to Werner Loehlein, chief of water management for the Corps' Pittsburgh District.

“People are used to the lazy river this time of year,” he said.

No sloth here as scattered rainstorms have pelted the region almost daily for about two weeks.

Runoff adds up

Although many sections of the Alle-Kiski Valley were spared from some of the storms, the Allegheny and Kiski rivers absorb the extra water from storms hitting from the north of Pittsburgh to parts of western New York to Meadville to Ridgway and to Johnstown.

In fact, the Allegheny River took in the floodwater from Dubois in late June. It came via Sandy Lick Creek to Redbank Creek to the Allegheny River, according to Loehlein.

Then there are controlled releases to the river: The Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh has 16 reservoirs in the region that hold excess rainwater that it gradually releases into the Allegheny, Monongahela and Beaver rivers, according to Dan Jones, Corps spokesman.

There are nine reservoirs that drain into the Allegheny River covering 11,700 square miles.

As of Monday, the Corps had released all of its excess water from its reservoirs, Loehlein said.

But not soon enough for local boaters.

Bummer summer so far

It's been a bummer summer for many boaters over the past several weeks.

One of the high watermarks of boating, the Fourth of July weekend, found the Allegheny and Kiski rivers light on vessels as many boaters apparently chose not to tangle with the higher water and debris that look like churned-up chocolate milk in some sections of both rivers.

“It was a very quiet weekend,” said Eugene Kline, a worker at Rosston Eddy Marina, formerly Coleman's marina, in Ford City. “With the debris going down the river, it's been relatively slow for boaters.”

Ditto at Manni's Lighthouse Landing in New Kensington.

“Business has slowed down in the last couple of weeks,” said Dennis Bohatch, service manager at Manni's.

“But the water levels are going down, and as long as we don't get a hard rain, things area clearing up,” he said.

The National Weather Service predicts scattered showers Tuesday through late Thursday followed by drier weather, according to Rihaan Gangat, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at the Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691

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