The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 4, 2012

Sand in Ashtabula River creates havoc for boaters

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA —  City Manager Jim Timonere says piloting a boat in portions of the  Ashtabula River near Brockway Marina can be difficult.

Mother Nature has pushed sand into the marina’s south side and filled it to where the water is only 1 1/2-feet deep in spots, he said. Navigating at night is particularly dangerous.

“Some boaters said they won’t be back unless it’s dredged,” he said. “The city owns some of this ... something must be done.”

City Council Monday night approved Timonere’s request for an ordinance to prepare and file an application with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft, Recreational Harbor Evaluation Program, for money to dredge this portion of the Ashtabula River.

 “There are no contaminates in this water, that’s why it was not dredged earlier,” he said.

The dredging would begin before the next boating season, which usually begins in early June, he said.

Dredging of toxic sludge five years ago from the Ashtabula River has helped make the historic Ashtabula harbor into a cleaner, vibrant port along Lake Erie.

Before 2007, the river hadn’t been dredged since 1962 and its bottom was contaminated by cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls, low-level radioactive materials, heavy metals and oil and grease from Ashtabula’s chemical plants.

Residents were warned not to eat the fish and stay out of the water.

Today, the city celebrates a new, very successful Wine & Walleye Festival at the end of August, thanks to two dredging barges that scoured the river bottom 24 hours a day, sucking 5,000 gallons of water and mud each minute and pumping it two miles away into giant plastic bags at a permanent holding facility off State Road.

Dredging the non-polluted river bottom near Brockway Marina, located behind Ashtabula County Medical Center, will only enhance the city’s rebound into a mecca for recreational boaters and fishermen, city officials said.