2015-05-22 / Letters

Restoring fish access to Mousam will help marine food chain

To the editor: The Kennebunk Light and Power District operates three small dams on the Mousam River, the Kesslen, Twine Mill and Dane Perkins dams.

Decades ago these dams were a significant source of electricity, but today the dams are antiquated and inefficient, producing less than 2 percent of electricity used by ratepayers.

The Mousam is the largest river system in Maine lacking fish passage. As a result, sea-run fish species have been unable to access freshwater habitats for more than a century.

Restoring the free-flow of water in the Mousam will create habitat for shad, herring, salmon, alewive, trout, eel and other native species; providing food for eagles, heron, osprey, and the entire marine food chain.

We can repeat the success of the Kennebec region. Fifteen years after the removal of the 160-year-old Edwards Dam in Augusta, the Kennebec River now supports the largest run of alewives and river herring on the eastern seaboard.

An estimated 13 million alewives have traveled up the Kennebec since 2008. This past June, officials with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife counted 58 Bald Eagles on a single day along a five-mile stretch of the river.

KLPD’s dams must be relicensed soon by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

This complex process will cost district ratepayers several million dollars.

Even such a large investment will not guarantee that FERC will grant new licenses, it is likely that any new licenses will come with expensive fish passage requirements at each dam.

Based on the last decade’s data, relicensing expenses alone will be greater than the projected hydropower value over the dams’ serviceable lives, leading ultimately to customer rate increases. Removing the Mousam dams is a win-win for the environment, and for KLPD ratepayers.

Please attend the public meeting at the town hall on May 28 at 7 p.m. where a panel of experts will share the facts about the dams and their impact on the Mousam.

Barry Braddick
Kennebunk

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