Asked and answered:
Q. Please tell me why this abandoned piece of junk — two pieces actually — from a storm gets to stay in the Little Maumelle/Arkansas River from a storm years ago? #too long # personal responsibility #eyesore.
A. The two half-sunken houseboats in the Little Maumelle channel that you can see from the I-430 bridge— and, indeed, which are visible on Google Earth — get to stay there because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not been able to persuade the boat owners to move them. The Corps is hoping a civil prosecution might budge the boats.
The houseboats, and other debris, washed out of their slips at the privately-owned Pinnacle Valley Marina on the Little Maumelle during the May 1, 2011, flood. The Corps of Engineers is not authorized to remove boats from the Arkansas River unless they are in the river’s navigation channel, and in fact did have to remove debris deposited just upstream of the Murray Lock and Dam after that flood.
The marina cleaned up the flood debris around its docks, but requires boat owners to have insurance to take care of sunken boats.
The Corps, which got no response to letters to the boat owners instructing them to salvage the boats by a deadline last year, has referred its information to the federal Department of Justice.
Federal law allows the Corps to withhold the names of the boat owners. If the DOJ take the boat owners to court, their names will be made public then. Should the boats get flushed into the navigation system, the Corps can haul them out.