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Posted 5/23/2018

Release no. 18-025

Jeff Hawk
412.395.7503 (fax)
1000 Liberty Ave. Suite 2200 Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Alert: Buoys may not be in place, new PFD policy for locking through

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District is informing mariners, boaters and paddlers of two notices involving river safety as Memorial Day weekend approaches – the placement of warning buoys and a new personal flotation device policy.   

Warning Buoys may not be in place

Due to high water conditions, the warning buoys placed during recreation season above and below our navigation dams on the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny rivers are not all set and may not all be in place this weekend for the official start of the recreation season.

The buoys delineate the restricted areas upstream and downstream of the Corps’ lock and dam facilities. The district is urging river users to use extreme caution near our facilities.

Eleven of the district’s 23 navigation dams are low head or fixed-crest dams. These un-gated dams are difficult to see when traveling downstream and present life-threatening hazards for those unaware of their presence and how to safety navigate through the locks.

Boaters should not assume that these navigation aids are on station to identify these restricted areas. The Corps is advising boaters to consult navigation charts and river conditions when preparing to recreate on local waterways, and to be aware of the landmarks and potential hazards on the river. Prior to launch, anyone recreating on the rivers should know where these potential hazards are located. 

Corps employees will set buoys, by location, when river conditions allow safe placement.

New PFD policy

The district has implemented a new PFD policy for anyone locking through our 23 navigation facilities along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

The policy reads:


1. Commercial tow boats: All persons on deck of a tow, barges or other objects, engaged in line handling, mooring, training, overseeing, directing or otherwise engaged in the locking process while transiting through the locks are required to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). All persons engaged in line handling, mooring, training, overseeing, directing or otherwise engaged in the locking process from the deck of a light boat are required to wear a PFD.


2. Commercial Passenger Vessels: All persons engaged in line handling, mooring, or otherwise involved in the locking process from the deck of a vessel are required to wear a PFD. Any persons working on the passenger vessel that are on deck to train, oversee, direct or otherwise assist in the lockage process are required to wear a PFD.


3. Recreational Vessels: All persons on a recreational vessel that are standing, handling lines, fending off, or otherwise engaged in the locking process are required to wear a PFD. All persons on a sit-down type personal watercraft or any paddle craft are required to wear a PFD. The Corps highly recommends and encourages all children to wear a PFD while locking through.


4. The Lockmaster at each facility can choose to enhance or increase these requirements if local conditions or situations are determined to warrant further safety measures.


KNOW.TAKE.WEAR. Know the waterways. Take a water safety course. Wear your life jacket.

Pittsburgh District’s 26,000 square miles comprise the upper Ohio River Basin and include portions of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland and southwestern New York. Our jurisdiction includes more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose flood risk management reservoirs, 42 local flood protection projects and other projects to protect and enhance the nation’s water resources, infrastructure and environment.

For more information on river and reservoir conditions, visit:http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/WaterManagement.aspx.

For Navigation Charts visit: http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/NavigationCharts.aspx

For Locking Through information visit: http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Portals/72/docs/navigation/celrpp_1130_1_10.pdf

For media inquiries, contact the Public Affairs Office at 412-395-7500 or email: celrp-pa@usace.army.mil.

The district has launched a new app, which can be found in any app store by searching "USACE Pittsburgh"


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