LIMA — The old quotation by Ben Franklin that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies to keeping a river flowing, too.
Workers were busy Monday clearing debris and logjams from the Ottawa River near Lima Senior High School.
“We’re working through the city of Lima removing all the downed timber and the logjams that are up against the piers and any of the leaning trees that have fallen into the streams,” said Dan Ellerbrock of the Allen Soil and Water District.
The goal is to restore water flow and improve the scenic view of the river, he said.
The Water District typically clears jams in the river annually to keep up. The biggest problem in recent years is with ash trees, thanks to the emerald ash borer beetle that is killing off ash trees, Ellerbrock said.
The dead ash trees are easily knocked over by high winds and those near the river can fall in or its limbs break off ending up in the river, he said.
Debris, limbs and logs move down the river until it hits something to catch it such as the piers that support bridges. Jams keep growing by catching other debris making its way down the river, Ellerbrock said.
“The bigger ones, when they start piling up, they collect quickly. When they’re up against the bridges it poses problems, not only for the structure, but for the banks on both sides. It can force the water to one side or another causing the banks to erode away,” he said.
The cleanup is being performed by Tawa Tree Service of Ottawa at the cost of just more than $88,000 this year. That cost to taxpayers $2 per parcel, Ellerbrock said.
Tawa has a crew of five pulling the debris from the water and shredding it or placing it on a truck for disposal. The company has 60 miles of river to clean, 42 in Allen County and 18 in Putnam County, he said.
The company will spend the next month clearing the river in Lima.
“We try to get that stuff out early before it’s a big deal. One thing, it’s cheaper to do when it’s smaller, than when it gets to be big,” Ellerbrock said.