Letter: Misleading video on Mill Street dam
To the editor:
There is a video out from the dam wreckers at the Division of Ecological Restoration.
It is about the travesty unfolding at the Mill Street dam in Pittsfield. Intended as removal justification, it raises questions about why remove this dam at all?
Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath makes statements like "water power is long since past," "old relics," "serve no useful purpose," " dams had a valuable role in Pittsfield's past but now we are turning the page on a new history." The "new history" is one where renewable energy, like from hydroelectric dams, is replacing fossil fuel electric generation. Hydropower is a natural resource. Why isn't Pittsfield's natural resource program manager embracing this "new history" by fighting to re-power this dam instead of promoting its destruction? McGrath says that the "ecosystem is compromised" by dams — like the ecosystems created just upstream at Pontoosuc and Onota? Many people enjoy those manmade "compromised" lakes.
Jane Winn from BEAT and the dam owners talk about the polluted conditions at the dam. The video clearly shows that the trash as well as the graffiti are at the upstream bridges, not the dam. Dam removal will not stop any of this.
Winn talks about river access and boating opportunities in the video. This dam and boating can certainly coexist, it's called a canoe chute. Is the executive director of BEAT telling us that recreation is more important than the no carbon emission, zero fuel cost renewable energy from a re-powered dam?
Historical photos presented show the dam was designed, built and operated as an arched stone structure, it is not a concrete dam. McGrath speaks of a "failing dam" but the concrete coating may have little structural significance. They are judging this book (dam) by its cover (concrete coating).
The dam owners tell us they were "in awe of the power of the water going over (the dam)" and they should be. Its size and watershed make it one of the best hydropower locations in the area.
The video finishes with McGrath saying that this dam is a "dark, hidden spot in our city ... that we need to shine a light on." It is not the dam causing this, it is the bridges. In the video, the dam owners even called the bridges an "iron cloud."
This video is poor attempt to villainize this dam and ignore the real problem.
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