Boaters beware: Army Corps late setting safety buoys at dangerous river dams

The Valley News-Dispatch

May 07–High waters have delayed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in setting out safety buoys at potentially dangerous fixed crest dams on the Allegheny and other rivers.

The dams can be treacherous because they are practically invisible to some boaters moving downstream.

Safety concerns grew last year after two young women were killed when their kayaks went over a fixed crest dam at the Dashields Dam on the Ohio River between Sewickley and Crescent.

The Corps manages 11 fixed crest dams, eight are on the Allegheny River, and the remaining three are at Grays Landing and Elizabeth on the Monongahela River and Dashields.

The Corps is roughly doubling the buoy coverage at the those dams, adding 260 buoy to their supply, which is depleted annually because of high and rough waters, according to Jeff Hawk, Corps spokesman.

The Corps wants to install all of their safety buoys by Memorial Day, but because of high water and the slower installation of a new buoy system, the job might not be complete until the end of May, according to Corps spokesman Jeff Hawk.

“The bottom line is people need to be knowledgeable about where these locks and dams are before they get on the water,” Hawk said.

The Corps regularly remove their buoys before winter and re-install them in the early spring.

But they lose a number of the buoys during the year and this season have developed a new anchorage system for better retainment, he said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.