2017-01-27 / Letters

Appearance of river is just one factor

To the editor:

To his credit, in his last letter to the Post, Curtis Mildner now states that he prefers to restrict the debate to the facts. Fair enough.

First of all, Save the Mousam-Keep Our Dams is not motivated primarily by the appearance of the river (back to the old “just a river abutters issue”).

The 5,000 plus people who voted in favor of keeping the dams may have done so because of the senseless damage and irrevocable losses that we, as a town, will sustain if the Mousam Kennebunk Rivers Alliance and outside affiliates get their way – loss of the existent ecosystem that depends and thrives on the presence of water; loss of our sustainable and renewable hydroelectric generation; loss of recreational opportunities and scenic beauty of the river attracting residents and tourists alike; the detrimental impact on waterfront properties; and loss of a valued cornerstone of Kennebunk’s history.

And for what? So that Maine Rivers/MKRA can claim an imaginary victory in returning our rivers to the condition they were in before greedy, white Europeans came over here and employed their power for a better standard of living (see Landis Hudson’s lead-in piece on the Maine Rivers webpage).

We came up with the name Mudsam because it aptly describes what will be left after the dams come down as documented by our photographs of the November 2015 drawdown.

In selling their agenda to what they take for an unwitting public, they use pictures of current river conditions as if they are future conditions.

The discrepancy between the photos used by the MKRA to illustrate post-dam conditions and ours, which were taken six hours later, is due to the fact that they got into their kayaks and took photos during the middle, and not the completion of that drawdown. As for their simulated pictures predicting what the river will be like, they are indeed pretty, but no more real than virtual reality.

Resorting to these images comes right out of the Maine Rivers playbook on Dam removal which teaches: “Renderings can take the form of drawings or digitally-altered photographs showing “before” and “after” images of the site. Renderings have been successfully used in situations where there is apprehension about the “look” of the restored river… The perception of an idea such as dam removal is more important than the actual science that backs it up …” (see “Public Visioning” and “Framing Effective Messages” from pp. 13-14).

I’m also astonished that Mr. Mildner identifies several sections of the Mousam as already free flowing. According to their dogma, dams must come down to make them free flowing.

Evidently, the matter is settled. Now we can keep our dams because we already have a free-flowing river. These short sections of the Mousam that he refers to are indeed beautiful, but these sections represent only 2,800 feet of the river.

The rest of the nearly 12 miles of the Mousam has an average slope of 0.25 percent (one quarter of 1 per cent). Simply put: no dams; no river – or perhaps a drainage ditch at best.

What Mildner admires at these locations is the result of the release of water stored up behind the dams into a channel with a half percent (0.42 percent) of slope between the Dane Perkins and Twine Milldams, and a 5 percent slope for only 400 linear feet below the Kesslen.

If drawn with a 1:1 scale, the profile of the Mousam would look like the EKG of a dead man. To put these numbers into perspective, the next time you drive down Main St., try to notice the nearly imperceptible difference in elevation between the middle of the road (crown) and the gutters. To maintain adequate street drainage, the minimum slope across a roadway is 2 percent.

Since there are only two sources of inlet into the Mousam (what comes over the top of Old Falls Dam – which can be regulated, and surface water from rainfall – which cannot be predicted), if you take away the dams and their impoundments, what you will get is exactly what our draw-down photographs have recorded: the unsightly Mudsam.

Finally, the most important fact that Mildner overlooks: Last November, the residents of Kennebunk voted overwhelmingly that they not only want to keep the dams, but their hydrogeneration. These voters were informed.

The debate was in the papers on a weekly basis and on websites and Facebook pages. The residents issued a mandate to the selectmen to get involved in an issue that is bigger than four KLPD trustees who want to surrender their license.

Now it’s up to the selectmen to implement the loud and clear will of the voters.

Shawn Teague

Return to top