2016-01-29 / Letters

Make effort to save the Mousam River

To the editor:

At the last hydro meeting of the Kennebunk Light and Power District, Landis Hudson, executive director of the Maine Rivers tried to conclude the public comments by saying that there was a lot of emotion voiced by the residents of Kennebunk, but the “established science” shows that dam removal is the only intelligent choice.

In other words, if you disagree with that position, then you must be either ignorant or afraid or both.

One must distinguish between good science and bad science. Established science once taught us that the world was flat; Einstein rejected evolution as something that has not, and could not be proven. In each of these cases, the conclusions were not established, but assumed. We often go through life thinking that we know a lot more than we actually do.

A few of the fears that she and the Mousam Kennebunk Rivers Alliance (MKRA) would like to dismiss with superior thinking are these:

1) A “restored” Mousam will not look like the hideous muddy ditch that it does during draw-downs.

2) That when the dams come down and the river disappears, our property values will not do likewise.

Perhaps if she were a Kennebunk resident and owned a home or a business along the Mousam, she too might have the same fears and emotions that the rest of us have. Forgive us if we are too ignorant not to see the “established science” right in front of us.

For the primary stakeholders in this matter — the KLPD and its ratepayers, the taxpayers of Kennebunk, and the MKRA, three issues quickly emerge should the dams come down and we get an essentially waterless Mousam:

1. With no river and no more hydropower generation, how will the KLPD be any different than CMP – that is, simply trading in power off the national grid? A big selling point for those moving into Kennebunk was that the town had its own source of power and not be subject to the frequent whims and outages of CMP.

2. For MKRA, which claims to be so concerned about healthy and happy fish, a river without water defeats their very purpose.

3. For the town and residents of Kennebunk, a waterless Mousam means the permanent loss of a valuable asset and our property values along with it.

If the Mousam turns into a muddy ditch when just the floodgates are opened up, how do they imagine that there will somehow be more water left in the river after the dams themselves are taken out?

In saying that properties will be unaffected, dam removers rely on a mechanism, which provides considerable cover for our Washington politicians: short public memory in conjunction with rapidly changing (or manipulated) news cycles. In other words, the calculus is this: after 10 or 15 years, no one will remember what the properties used to look like when the river was there. Until then, current residents are expected to just step aside and sacrifice their equity to the utopian fantasy of a free Mousam so that the next generation of home owners can feel the love of living in an ecologically correct town of Kennebunk.

It should also be pointed out that Maine Rivers is predominantly an outside special interest group that thinks it knows what is best for the rest of us. Should they succeed in persuading the KLPD to take out the dams, none of them will be forced to look at or smell the remains of their crusade to free the Mousam.

In the end, KLPD is a public utility and what becomes of the dams and the Mousam is a vital public concern. The flow and presence of the river has played a defining role in the appearance and character of our town, and especially in the very the heart and center of our town, where we, by the way, have been working hard and spending lots of municipal funds over the last several years, to beautify and revitalize. Draining the Mousam will be an enormous eyesore for those who want to walk around and shop in town.

In my opinion, we should make every conceivable effort to save the Mousam, not free the Mousam.

Shawn Teague
Kennebunk

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