This year's 2009 Port of Pittsburgh - Ohio River Watershed Celebration exceeded all expectations by attracting about 800 people to sail the Monongahela River on the Gateway Clipper Majestic and Empress riverboats. Both Watershed and Environmental Awards were given out during this special event.
The ad-hoc ORWC Steering Committee raised all funding for the event through donations from individuals, businesses, industries, municipal authorities, and foundations. With the generous sponsorship, the event was free-of-charge for all attendees. Two different cruises comprised the event.
The Majestic was the home for the Networker Cruise designed for the adult community (18 and over). The Majestic departed Station Square at 1:00 PM sailing up the Monongahela River through the Braddock Lock and Dam and back to the Point during the three-hour cruise. The theme for this year’s event was “The Ohio River Watershed - Fuel for the Nation”. Innovative energy topics were presented throughout the cruise.
Several presentations on energy issues were given on the cruise, including: “Port of Pittsburgh” by Jim McCarville, Port of Pittsburgh Commission, “Geothermal Energy” by Rev. Calvin Cash; Holly Cairns, Herron Avenue Corridor Coalition and “Energy Efficiency Projects” by James Sloss, City of Pittsburgh
Many points of interest, current and historical, were highlighted with a very informative narration provided by Maggie Hall, Department of Environmental Protection; Dave Plank, DEP (retired); and Joe Dinkel, West View Water Authority. Points of interest included the various bridges along the way, GTECH’s biofuel project, Waterfront Redevelopment Project, USS Edgar Thompson Works, and the Braddock Lock and Dam.
Over sixty watershed and energy-related displays were on the Majestic providing participants the opportunity to meet and discuss (Network) with each other. Attendees included: watershed organizations and professionals, local, state and federal government agency personnel, business and industry leaders, college faculty members, college students, interested private citizens, and private foundation members.
Denny Tubbs, SW Regional Outreach & Education Coordinator, Fish and Boat Commission served as Master of Ceremony and judging was coordinated by Joe Dinkel, West View Water Authority for this years awards to watershed groups providing displays on the cruise.
The ORWC highlights positive efforts of small local groups who address watershed issues. Efforts of these dedicated volunteers are vital in the overall recovery of the Ohio River Watershed.
Many of these groups operate on the proverbial “shoestring” budget and we are pleased to honor their contributions with four, $500.00 & four, $250.00 awards, sponsored by David Hess (former DEP Secretary) and an anonymous donor.
The Watershed Award winners included--
Best Display: Kiski-Connemaugh Stream Team (1st place), Natural Biodiversity (2nd place)
Most Innovative Project: The Awesome Spirit of Wildlife (1st place), Stoneycreek River Improvement Project (2nd place)
Community Outreach & Education: Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center (1st place), Indiana Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Council (2nd place)
Best Example of Partnerships: Washington County Watershed Alliance (1st place), Westmoreland County Cleanways (2nd place)
Energy Conservation Award: City of Pittsburgh - accepted by James Sloss
The ORWC Environmental Awards each year recognizes an individual, business or industry, and a local government agency which demonstrated a commitment to watershed or energy conservation. They receive a framed plaque citing their efforts.
The 2009 Environmental Award Winners were--
Individual: Reverend Calvin Cash, Herron Avenue Corridor Coalition
Business/Industry: Pittsburgh Water Limo
Organization: Stonycreek River Improvement Project
Student Imagination Cruise
This year’s “Imagination Cruise” held on the Empress riverboat, offered public, cyber and home-schooled students in grades K-12, along with their parents and teachers, a chance to learn how the resources of the Ohio River Watershed have shaped the culture, economy, and environment of the region.
Dynamic, hands-on activities related to the theme of: “Ohio River Watershed – Fuel for a Nation” demonstrated how the watershed, which has supplied energy for a growing country for over 250 years, continues to be a leader in innovative energy conservation modeling and alternative energy technologies.
The cruise took advantage of the unique perspective from the river to focus on how the watershed has played a role in the historic production and distribution of energy, to illustrate the role it plays today and to explore what may be in store for the future.
The event provided a unique opportunity for energy-related organizations and industries to communicate how energy needs are met, how these needs impact the resources within the watershed and what can be done to conserve energy in order to lessen this impact.
Everyone’s interest was sparked with the kick-off presentation of “It’s Electric” by Carnegie Museum of Science, which showed how electricity is created and transmitted to power homes, schools and businesses.
Through fun, educational activities and interactive displays located on all three decks, students learned about various energy sources, including coal, natural gas, oil, the sun and garbage!
Groups of students used Lego construction sets to build solar cars, then raced them against one another to find out which designs were most efficient. They learned how sunlight energy flows through food chains and supports food webs; discovered how solar energy can be used to heat and pump water; compared the amount of energy used by several types of light bulbs; and computed the efficiencies of shipping goods via river barges.
They also found out how waste equates to energy, and how they could do their part to conserve energy by reducing, reusing and recycling. Many explored the effects of oil on birds’ feathers, and discovered how little of the earth’s supply of water is available for drinking.
Some grabbed fishing rods to practice fly casting and experience how energy and physical forces are involved in the casting motion. Others were amazed by the variety of fish that live in the Ohio River watershed, and at the adaptations they have for survival.
There was plenty of time to participate in the various activities, while still enjoying the view from the deck rails, as the boat floated up the Mon River, under historic bridges, through the Braddock Lock and Dam (with narration by a representative of the US Army Corps of Engineers), then back to the dock.
Each student was given a specially designed “Learner’s Log” in which to write and draw records of information gained and experiences enjoyed. The log helped them build knowledge, as well as lasting memories of their river journey.
The following lists the 19 government agencies, conservation and educational organizations, private business and industry were involved in the planning and implementation of the event, which received rave reviews from participants: Jennings Environmental Education Center (DCNR); Vox Energy Solutions; RiverQuest; National Aviary; Creek Connections; Port of Pittsburgh Commission; Carnegie Science Center; University of Pittsburgh; Fish and Boat Commission; Range Resources; Family Tyes; Commonwealth Connections; US Army Corps of Engineers; Butler Co. Dept. of Recycling & Waste Mgt.; ALSOSAN; Solar Power Industries; PittCon; CCI Center; Drake Well Museum (PHMC); Tour Ed Mine & Museum.
The Celebration could not have been possible without the generosity of sponsors and partners.
2009 ORWC Sponsor List
Prime: Port of Pittsburgh Commission
Platinum: Foundation for PA Watersheds; CONSOL Energy; Dominion Foundation;
Gold: Municipal Authority of West View; Anonymous
Silver: David Hess,PA Environment Digest/Crisci Associates; PA American Water; Society of Analytical Chemists (Pittsburgh); PA DCNR Bureau of State Parks; Spectroscopy Soc. of Pittsburgh; PlasTie, Inc.
Bronze: Commonwealth Connections Academy; Municipal Authority of Westmoreland Co.;
ALCOSAN; Allegheny Energy; W.K. Merriman, Inc.; Quality Aggregates Inc.; American Water Works Assoc. - SW PA Section; Anonymous
2009 ORWC Partner List
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Pittsburgh District.); Department of Environmental Protection; Fish and Boat Comm.; Jennings Env. Ed. Center (PA DCNR); US Office of Surface Mining (Pittsburgh); Conservation Consultants Inc.; Creek Connections; Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation; Butler County Dept. of Recycling & Waste Management; Drake’s Well Museum (PHMC); National Aviary; RiverQuest; Pittsburgh Conf. on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy; Solar Power Industries; Family Tyes; Commonwealth Connections Academy; Carnegie Science Center; Venture Outdoors; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Game Commission; 241 Computers; Gateway Clipper Fleet; Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team; U.S. Carbon Sequestration Council; Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition; Laurie Popeck; Dave Plank; Stream Restoration Inc.