Ohio dam system focus of chamber speech

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 25, 2011

PROCTORVILLE — As massive rains earlier this year devastated the cities and towns of those living by the Mississippi River, the damage could have been much worst, if not for the efforts of those who manage the Ohio River in the Tri-State.

That work done by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Huntington District during that disaster was detailed by the district’s commander, Col. Robert Peterson, at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth Friday Luncheon.

“Many of you can remember this spring the lower Ohio and Mississippi historic flooding,” Peterson told the luncheon audience at Ohio University Proctorville Center. “We held back water as much as we could to assist. If we hadn’t had all the levies and dams, the devastation would have been historic.”

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That is just one of many jobs of the Huntington District as it governs and controls the locks and dams along the 300 navigable miles of the Ohio River that make up the district. The Huntington District was started in 1922 from a merger of the Wheeling and second Cincinnati districts.

“The district plays a big role in flood damage reduction,” Peterson said.

But the district also plays an equal role in keeping commercial traffic moving as 92 million tons of commodity are transported annually.

“The system has a great impact on the nation’s economy,” he said. “And the traffic on the Ohio River, most of it is internal, not going down the Mississippi and on to international markets. Ohio is definitely shipping almost double what they are receiving.”

However, the system is falling victim to age,” Peterson said.

“We have an enormous amount of infrastructure and we need resources to maintain and fix this. We have many challenges.”

Also at the luncheon Nichole Carper, a junior at Fairland High School, was honored by the Chamber for her work as an amateur musician.

The Chamber will have its annual awards banquet on Oct. 27. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor will be the guest speaker.