Environment & Energy
8:35 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Monongahela River Runs Away With Award

Even rivers get awards.

The Monongahela River, flowing through Greene, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, has been named Pennsylvania’s 2013 River of the Year following online voting across the state.

Terry Brady, spokesperson for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), said the Mon won because of the strong voter turnout.

“We had six rivers, actually six waterways, vying for the title, and the folks in western Pennsylvania came out strong in their support of their river.,” he said. “That waterway actually drew over 8,000 votes out of a possible 25,000, more than 25,000. So it was a pretty strong turnout.

The river received 8,156 votes of the 25,450 ballots cast.

The five other finalists were the Schuylkill River (8,010 votes), the Lackawanna River (5,286), the Kiskimintas River (2,310), Swatara Creek (1,213), and the Juniata River (475).

Having rebounded from the effects of abandoned mine drainage and pollution, the Monongahela carves a 7,340 square-mile watershed featuring various types of land. Before joining the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, it flows north 130 miles across the Allegheny Plateau in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Brady said the award reflects the river’s turbulent past.

“The Monongahela has seen its downside with the mine runoff and other pollutions, but it’s coming back,” he said. “People are boating on it, people are fishing on it, people are hiking along [it], and that’s what we look for—not so much what the river is now, but what it can be and what it’s come from.”

Pennsylvania River of the Year honors have been presented annually since 1983.