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Over 700 Participate in 2010 Port Of Pittsburgh-Ohio River Watershed Celebration
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The 9th Annual Port of Pittsburgh-Ohio River Watershed Celebration was held on September 15 with over 700 people participating in this unique event which consisted of two cruises: the “Imagination Cruise” on the Empress for students, parents and educators, and the “Networker Cruise” on the Majestic for adults (18 and over).  

            The theme for this year’s event was:  “The Ohio River Watershed–Touch the Water”.  As we cruised along the Allegheny River, the restoration of the watershed along with historic and current roles of production and distribution of energy resources were highlighted during presentations and narrations.
            In addition, emphasis on watershed conservation underscored how new technologies lessen impacts on the watershed.
            So far this year over 1,723 people attended conferences designed to help restore Pennsylvania watersheds.  They include the Ohio River Celebration, the Statewide Mining Reclamation Conference (separate article), the West Branch Susquehanna Symposium (see article) and other conferences (other watershed conferences).
           Click here for photos from this special event.
            The POP-ORWC kicked off during mid-morning with hands-on activities at the Station Square dock and parking lot.  
            Venture Outdoors had an awesome climbing wall, ALCOSAN provided testing equipment to analyze water quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had a wonderful selection of macroinvertebrates, DCNR/Bureau of State Parks provided a quick “crash course” on Geocashing, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts had a unique environmental craft, Commonwealth Connections Academy debuted their new mobile classroom, RiverQuest provided educational opportunities with their RiverWorks Discovery activities, and the US Army Corps of Engineers had a working model to help everyone visualize how a lock and dam operates.  
            Before the Empress and Majestic set sail for the afternoon, participants from each cruise had the opportunity to visit displays and discuss the contributions of watershed organizations, government agencies, individuals, businesses and industries to the great improvement of water quality throughout the Ohio River Watershed.
            The POP-ORWC departed the Station Square dock at 1:00 pm and sailed along the Allegheny River.  Even though neither the Majestic nor the Empress were able to “lock through” due to reparation activities, the closure of the lock provided an educational opportunity to learn about how maintaining the locks and dams are so vital to Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers.  
            Jim McCarville, Executive Director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, explained the economic impact of the lock and dam system for the Ohio River Watershed while Jim Klanica of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described the repairs to the lock and dam. 
            Watershed Awards
            One of the major highlights of the cruise was the presentation of Watershed Awards that recognize the positive efforts and impacts of small local groups who address watershed issues. (Photo Watershed Award winners)
            Most of these groups operate on the proverbial “shoe-string” budget and the POP-ORWC Steering Committee was pleased to honor their contributions with four $500.00 and four $250.00 awards.  
            The awards were presented by Scott Roberts, Deputy Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection.  Funding was provided by David Hess (former Secretary Department of Environmental Protection) and an anonymous donor.  (Photo of winners, Scott Roberts, DEP at left)
            The 2010 Watershed Award Winners were:
Education and Outreach: 1st place—Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center $500.00
                                            2nd place—Crooked Creek Watershed Association $250.00
Most Innovative Project: 1st place—Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team $500.00
                                           2nd place—Stonycreek River Improvement Project $250.00
Best Display: 1st place—Shade Creek Watershed Association $500.00
                       2nd place—The Awesome Spirit of Wildlife $250.00
Best Partnerships: 1st place—Washington County Watershed Alliance $500.00  
                       2nd place—Roaring Run Watershed Association $250.00
            Participants had the opportunity to listen to three very dynamic presentations during the voyage.  
           Denny Fredericks of CONSOL Energy discussed wetlands and longwall mining.  Josh McNeil of PA Conservation Voters spoke about how to contact your legislators and Ernie Sota presented about “Net Zero” energy buildings.
            A very informative talk was also provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the repair of the lock and dam system on the Allegheny River.
            Maggie Hall, DEP and Dave Plank, DEP (retired) provided an educational and entertaining narration, highlighting many points of both current and historical interest along the Allegheny River.
            Environmental Awards
            Additionally, the POP-ORWC recognizes individuals, organizations, and local government agencies that demonstrate a commitment to watershed or energy conservation with the Environmental Awards.  
            This year’s award winners were: 
Government –Young Township, Indiana County
Individual Award –Pam Meade, Cowanshannock Creek Watershed Association
Organization Award –Conemaugh Valley Conservancy
3rd Annual Energy Conservation Award – University Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)—accepting the award was Sam McMahon.
            Steering Committee
            The following is a list of representatives of 17 government agencies, conservation and educational organizations, private business and industry that were involved in the planning and implementation of the event:  Jennings Environmental Education Center (DCNR); Westview Water Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, RiverQuest, Southwest Planning Commission, Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation; PA Foundation for Watersheds; Port of Pittsburgh Commission; Fish & Boat Commission; ALCOSAN, Plastie Inc.; Commonwealth Connections; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; PittCon; and Stream Restoration Inc.
            Sponsors of the Celebration include: CONSOL Energy, Port of Pittsburgh Commission, Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Dominion Foundation, BioMost, Inc., The Municipal Authority of West View, David Hess, former Secretary Department of Environmental Protection, PA American Water, Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, PA DCNR Bureau of State Parks, PlasTie, Inc., Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, Commonwealth Connections Academy, Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, ALCOSAN, Allegheny Energy, W. K. Merriman, Inc., Quality Aggregates Inc., Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, American Water Works Assn.- SW PA Section and two anonymous donors. 
            Partners include:  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Pittsburgh District); Department of Environmental Protection; Fish & Boat Commission; Jennings Environmental Education Center (PA DCNR); US Office of Surface Mining (Pittsburgh); Creek Connections; Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation; National Aviary; RiverQuest; Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy; Family Tyes; Commonwealth Connections Academy;Venture Outdoors; US Environmental Protection Agency; 241 Computers; Gateway Clipper Fleet; Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team; US Carbon Sequestration Council; Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition; Dave Plank; Stream Restoration Inc.; Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium; Friends of the Riverfront; Allegheny Cleanways; Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; Scrubgrass Generating Plant; Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania; Ghost in the Head   
            The Port of Pittsburgh-Ohio River Watershed Celebration would not have the continuing success if not for the unwavering support of the Steering Committee Members, the Sponsors and the Partners.  Please give them your thanks and appreciation for their long standing support!

            2011 Celebration

            The 10th Annual Port of Pittsburgh-Ohio River Watershed Celebration will take place in September 2011.  Please watch for our announcement of the date in early 2011.   For more information, send email to:  orwc@streamrestorationinc.org.
            The ORWC is now on Twitter! Follow us at: http://twitter.com/TheOWRC and on Facebook.


            Written by Laurie Popeck, Project Facilitator for the Slippery Rock Creek Watershed Conservation Plan and Clean Creek Products at Stream Restoration, Inc. and Tom Grote, POP ORWC Co-Chairman.  They can be contacted by sending email to: orwc@streamrestorationinc.org.


10/4/2010

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