Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shallow water at Riverfront Park

About 8 a.m. yesterday morning I was kneeling down by the Ohio River at Harris Riverfront Park here at Huntington, W.Va. The river was still and calm. The spot where I knelt was a few yards above where the Mississippi Queen docked when it first visited Huntington 30 years ago this month. I was kneeling to get a look down into the Ohio. This is a place where my granddaughter and I often walk. I try to keep her away from the edge of the concrete walking area along the river because she might fall in and find herself in water way over her head.

Was I ever wrong about that.

As I stared into the water, I was amazed at how shallow it was. There was maybe 18 to 24 inches of water there at normal pool that morning. A little farther up the river, toward the boat launch ramp, the water got shallower. The shallow water extended as far out as the transparency or translucency of the water would let me see.

I had heard from people at the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that this part of the park had problems with sedimentation, but I didn't know they were this bad. This also explains why a few years ago, when I saw a Coast Guard buoy tender tie up at the park overnight, that there were guys on the head and the stern of the boat with poles measuring the water's depth.

Staring down into the water, I thought I saw where mussels or some other marine life lived. I couldn't see them, but there were streams of little bubbles that rose from the mud and popped when they reached the surface. There were also some little green floaters on the water, possibly the blue green algae that is causing problems a couple of hundred miles upriver in the Steubenville, Ohio, area. It reminded me of my tenth-grade biology class in high school. One of the few things I remember from that class, other than the day I managed to cheat my way to perfect score on the test in full view of y classmates but not my teacher, was that the green stuff we say in creeks back up in the hollers of southern Ohio was an algae called spirogyra, even if our elders referred to it as frog (you know).

Oh, after the test I told the teacher what I had done. He commended me on my ingenuity.

Other than the cost-benefit ratio, I suppose there's no rush to dredge the shallow water along the park wall. For all I know, the mud there could be home to the pink pearly mucket mussel, an endangered species that can stop a variety of human works in the river.

Should someone fall into the river, the question now probably would be how soft the mud is. So the next task for the inquiring mind is to take a long stick and poke the mud. If I do, I'll let you know what happened.

No comments: