Mousam River from a dam’s-eye view

To the editor,

Hello readers, Mousam River here again.

As I mentioned in my last letter to the editor, I wanted to continue to share my perspectives of the impacts if the Kesslen, Twine Mill, and Dane Perkins dams were removed.

With these dams in place, my path has been pretty well established over the decades. Yes, I’ve overflowed my banks a few times due to unusual events such as superstorms. However, if these dams were removed, the path that I will follow is unknown – guess I can go where ever I want. Spring runoffs, superstorms, global warming/climate change will just make this situation even worse. While I’ve always strived to keep soil erosion impact low, especially for areas nearest major roads and bridges, it is a very serious concern of mine. So I say, ‘Let me be.’

When FEMA re-drew floodplain designations several years ago for areas along my borders, they had decades of data to utilize because the three dams had been in place for so long. If the dams were removed, it would seem that all this data would no longer apply. Will FEMA therefore initiate new floodplain analysis and what would be the impact to property owners and municipalities for flood insurance, erosion control, and other issues? Again, I say, ‘Let me be.’

For years, I’ve watched as people of all ages used kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards, even small boats to enjoy leisurely trips up and down these tranquil sections of the river. Many use the public access area at the end of Berry Court at the Lafayette Center to launch their watercraft. Swimmers use my 14 feet of water near the Kesslen Dam area as well as upriver areas to cool off on those hot summer days. Sadly, if the dams were removed, all of this is permanently lost. Lack of water, various navigational hazards, etc., will significantly limit the ability of people to utilize my waters. Can you say, ‘Let me be.’

You know, I really don’t understand why people are willing to modify a viable ecosystem that has existed for decades and risk replacing it with unknowns and unwanteds by removing these dams? What if the rosy picture that’s being painted in support of dam removal is nothing more than a dream? I have to ask what will be the impact to the ecosystems within my lower reaches as a result of the ongoing increased release of upriver sediments?

If these upstream sediments also contain pollutants like lead, PAH compounds, other pollutants, etc., what are the immediate and long-term impacts to existing ecosystems? Are there any longer term adverse health affects to humans? Do these various chemicals build up within the food chain so that ultimately desired species like mollusks, blue fish, striped bass, sea run trout, lobster, etc. are no longer safely edible? I really don’t want to be turned into a scientific experiment? I have often heard people say, ‘You don’t want to mess with Mother Nature,’ or as I say, ‘Let me be.’

I ask everyone in the community, as well as state and federal agencies, to understand what will be lost or damaged forever with the removal of these three dams. Is it really worth the risk?

In other words, I ask that everyone, ‘Let me be.’

Thank you for listening, the Mousam River

Chauncey Copeland