Utility Workers 335 rebuilds boat ramp destroyed in spring floods

UWUA Local 335 volunteers from Missouri American Water, Nick Aulbach (left) and Dave Turner, part of the union’s volunteer corp, reconstructed the boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park that was destroyed by flooding last spring. – UWUA photo

Sunset Hills, MO – The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335 volunteers completed construction of a non-motorized boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, MO, for the second time this year, on August 13.

The ramp was less than a week old when catastrophic flooding destroyed the newly poured concrete in May. Undeterred, the three project partners devised a design they believe will stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.

“Flood waters destroyed nearly $12,000 of volunteer labor and materials invested at the Minnie Ha Ha Park and resulted in the cancellation of our dedication ceremony and paddling event, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of our dedicated union volunteers and partners at American Water,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water pledged an additional $15,000 in grant money to repair the ramp, and volunteers once again gave their time and skills to reconstruct it for the benefit of the entire community.”


During the original project, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Local 335 volunteers spent approximately 250 hours tearing out the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition, and then grading, framing, laying rebar and pouring new concrete. The project was finished in late April and mere days later, historic flooding damaged 90 percent of the structure beyond repair.

Local 335 volunteers returned to Minne Ha Ha Park in early August and spent another 260 hours completing the project once again. To help the ramp weather future flooding, volunteers poured more, deeper footing all the way up the ramp and placed larger rocks on its upriver side. 

The new boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills was completed, for a second time, on Aug. 13. The ramp was less than a week old when it was destroyed by May floodwaters.
            – Ursula Ruhl/South County Times photo

“A lot of people kayak and canoe the Meramec River, and the old boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park was in pretty bad shape for the past 10-15 years,” said UWUA Local 335 President Allan Bathon.

“Union members make a decent living, so we are able to give back by donating our trade skills and money to projects like this that benefit our community,” Bathon said.

“I am proud of the way Missouri American Water, Local 335 and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance came together to build this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “It says a lot about the determination of those involved that they wouldn’t let Mother Nature and severe flooding defeat their efforts to get this boat ramp built.” 


The new ramp was one of six projects funded through a $150,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) to support USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation projects that improve access to water-based recreation activities. A ramp dedication and paddling event, originally scheduled for May 2017, is being planned for the spring of 2018. 

For more information on the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the USA’s flagship conservation program, visit unionsportsmen.org.

For more information on Missouri American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF), which was established with a founding contribution from American Water, visit amwater.com.


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