2017-06-30 / Letters

Why wasn’t firm hired to analyze dam issue?

To the editor:

In Shawn Teague’s recent letter, he raised several points that I actually agreed with him on.

The biggest and most significant of these was the question he posed: “Why wasn’t a leading hydroelectric firm like Kleinschmidt in Falmouth selected” to do the dam analysis work for Kennebunk Light and Power District?

Both Wright-Pierce and GZA have solid reputations and were more than qualified to do the work that they did for KLPD. Setting that aside, Kleinschmidt does have substantial experience with hydro- and non-hydroelectric dams.

They have worked on hundreds of studies, assessments, regulatory proceedings, fish passage assessments, and economic analyses related to dams across the nation. Kleinschmidt is indeed very well qualified to assess the economics of the KLPD dams and to give an honest and unbiased assessment of the situation.

Kleinschmidt also has the ability to delve into another major area of dispute: what would actually happen to the Mousam River – ecologically, biologically, physically – and to the birds, fish, and wildlife that live in and adjacent to it if the dams are removed. Kleinschmidt has done myriad studies for the hydropower industry and others to answer questions about the condition of a river with a dam in place and what changes would result if a dam were removed. They have a strong interdisciplinary team of scientific and technical experts that can delve into these issues on the Mousam River.

Let’s put these issues to bed. Let’s hire Kleinschmidt to do these studies. The Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance, Teague’s Save the Dam group, the town of Kennebunk and Kennebunk Light and Power District could work together to develop a mutually agreed upon scope of work and list of questions for Kleinschmidt to answer.

All four entities would contribute funding to the study. A steering committee could be created with representatives from the four entities, and be chaired by the town manager or some other clearly independent person. Kleinschmidt would do their work and report back to the community and all stakeholders.

The process would be open and transparent. Everyone might not like the results, but the answers provided would be of tremendous value to our community.

This seems like the best approach available for finally developing a common set of economic and scientific facts from which the community can make the best-informed decision about the fate of the dams and the Mousam River.

Some of this work would need to be done anyway no matter what decision is made about the dams, be it dam relicensing or dam removal, so let’s come together and make this happen.

The MKRA is ready to contribute time and money to the effort. We embrace Teague’s idea and his group should stepup and pay their fair share of a study by Kleinschmidt, as we are willing to do.

As for the town, its share would certainly be money well spent to address the most hotly debated topic to come through this community in a long time.

John R.J. Burrows

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