A wide swath of dead vegetation on the bank of the Ohio River along Ohio Street has members of Marietta City Council's lands, buildings and parks committee concerned.
"The riverbank between Third and Fourth streets has been sprayed, and everything is dead now," Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who chairs the committee, said Tuesday.
He said the absence of vegetation has already resulted in some erosion of the riverbank and could threaten the city's River Trail that runs along the top of the embankment, parallel to Ohio Street.
Noland said he did not know who was responsible for spraying the riverbank, but noted that area is city property.
Marilyn Ortt with the Marietta Tree Commission noted that a couple of representatives from the condominiums located in that block of Ohio Street had approached the tree commission earlier this year about having some trees trimmed in the area.
"But we would never have given them permission to spray the riverbank," she said. "And the tree trimming was to be contracted out."
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Kathy Davis, stormwater specialist with the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District, and a member of the city's Riverbank Management Task Force, said spraying herbicide on city property requires a special permit.
"In order to spray on public grounds a person has to be licensed by the state," she said. "The city has maintained a permit through (streets superintendent) Todd Stockel."
Davis said Stockel provides training for city workers who may be using herbicidal chemicals.
"There's also a set of guidelines that must be followed-and riverbank spraying is not allowed," she said.
Ortt added another concern that runoff from herbicidal chemicals could have an impact on aquatic life in the local rivers.
Noland said he would contact the city administration to see if anyone was given permission to spray the riverbank, and would have a letter sent to the condominium association with a copy of the city's policy governing riverbanks.
Davis suggested that all landowners who live along the rivers within Marietta's city limits should be provided with a copy of the riverbank care policy.
"The city could also put up signage that no spraying is allowed along the riverbanks," she said.
On a related issue, Noland said herbicide had apparently been sprayed on grassy embankments and around signs and posts along the streets bordering Mound Cemetery.
Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, said he had also seen areas of Oak Grove Cemetery that were sprayed.
Noland said residents who live near the cemeteries had expressed concern that the herbicidal chemicals could harm their pets as many people walk their dogs in that area.