Ohio River continues to rise as barge sinks



Posted on March 16, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 16 at 5:54 PM

On both sides of the Ohio River there are high water problems.

But how high water levels could reach? Why is that causing a barge once connected to the former Star of Louisville, to sink?

The Ohio River is a mess with debris carried by the current while water levels rise.

MSD says drivers should look out by the water's edge.

Bud Schardein, MSD Executive Director, said, “could be by Friday you could see a little water along the river front downtown."

The river is now rising onto the great lawn in Louisville.

Instead of joggers and visitors, you'll see park benches that are covered by Waterfront Park and water levels are extremely high.

MSD says the river could crest just below flood stage in the next three days, estimated to reach 21 feet on the upper gauge Tuesday night.

The flood stage is 23 feet.

Across the river, a former Star is sinking into the Ohio.

Lt. Kirk Beckmann of the U.S. Coast Guard said, "they'd get their tickets. You know, have some offices on there."

This barge was once the Star of Jeffersonville, recently used for ticket sales.

Now the U.S. Coast Guard tells us the barge could break free and become a hazard if water levels continue to rise.

Beckmann said, "it the vessel were to break away right now. It could cause a hazard adrift. It could sink in the channel; it could do a number of things. It would be a hazard to navigation."

That's why they sent a warning letter to the barge's owner last December.

The owner says the city shut off power and pumps became useless.

But City Attorney Larry Wilder says they did it because electrical wires caused a safety problem.

"They believe it's our responsibility because they believe the city caused the boat to sink. We don't agree with them. We believe certainly the boat was sinking before the electric was turned off," said Wilder.

No matter who's at fault, the Army Corps of Engineers says the city will lose their permit if there's no action in two days.

It's a problem that could cost the city much more than $10,000 to fix.

Wilder said, "We've engaged a very meaningful discussion with the Star of Louisville, Inc. and their counsel about trying to get them to agree to let us, at our expense at this time to remove the boat in some manner or fashion." 

The city of Jeffersonville says if there is no agreement it will request an emergency court order to repair or remove the barge from the river.