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Save The Dam? Really?

July 4th, 2012 by Colin Carmichael

I really don’t want to get dragged into this particular debate but last weekend provided an opportunity to, at the very least, provide another perspective. Any idea what this is?

Well, it’s gross, is what it is. It’s the what the water looks like from above in the area that the Save The Dam (STD) people want to “preserve”. Here’s a wider shot to show what I’m talking about:

The STD acronym is fitting, I think, because it looks like you could actually catch an STD in that stuff. This is NOT what rivers are supposed to look like. Here’s another view closer to the dam:

Now, I’m no expert… but I’ve never seen an obstructed river do that.

For my part, I will leave the decisions to the experts and bureaucrats. I simply want to illustrate that it’s just not as simple as saving a dam.

If you’d like an alternative opinion, I suggest you look through local photographer John Mitchell’s blog. I’ll admit he makes a pretty strong photographic argument for keeping the dam but I just don’t think it’s as simple as that.

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4 Responses to “Save The Dam? Really?”

  1. Sarah says:

    I don’t understand the argument for saving the dam…

  2. Carol Thorman says:

    Check out all the local rivers, with and without dams! Record low water levels, and over-burdened sewage treatment plants providing “fertilizer” have more to do with the current state of the Speed River than the dams. If you really want to be informed, I suggest you read the documents on file at https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/405127872839545/

    And yes, John Mitchell has educated himself about the river and like many others, has a convincing argument to save it. Stay tuned. Nearly 1600 people have joined that group, and another 2,000 plus have signed a petition to save the dam. They bothered to become informed.

    • Sarah says:

      I have read the information and I still don’t understand the rationale for saving the dam. Because it’s a Heritage site? Because it will destroy Mill Pond and Riverside Park “as we know it”?

      Sure low rain fall is a contributing factor to the condition of the river – because the water is too low to flow properly over the dam. There are fewer and fewer birds and turtles in the water pictured abvove. And whatever is growing in there isn’t supposed to be – not in that volume.

      I am genuinely interested in understanding the benefit of saving the dam beyond conserving something because it’s been there for a long time – especially if it’s to the detriment of the local wildlife and the river, itself.

    • Carol Thorman says:

      The river as it is, is actually healthier than it has been in years. It is home to 12 species of fish, 5 species of turtles (some endangered), several species of water fowl to name a few. If the river is allowed to “naturalize” it will be not much more than a wide and shallow creek and will not be a conucive habitat for the wild life that now enjoy it.

      Try to canoe beyond the footbridge near the back of the park and you’ll see what we’d have without the dam. The dam also prevents some nasty stuff from swimming up river too! The Gobi fish (introduced to the great lakes by foreign fishing ships with no local predator) is ruining water ways as far up as Brantford at the moment, and is only impeded by dams along the way.

      The stuff growing in the river is largely a result of an over-burdened sewage treatment plant providing fertilizer, but mostly because of the record low water temperatures. Take a look at the Grand River near the 401 bridge between Homer Watson/Fountain St. and Hwy 8 and it looks much the same as in the park, and can’t be blamed on a dam. The fertilizer there is from the adjacent golf course.

      The dam also helps protect properties built below the dam. These buldings were allowed to be built where they are because of the presence of the dam. If we eliminate the dam, they are in danger of annual flooding which would not otherwise have occured.

      The Riverside Park “as we know it” is a haven for anyone of any income level to enjoy either passively by sitting on a bench and watching the geese, or by actively canoeing on it or fishing in it. Can it be improved? Most certainly. Most things more than a hundred years old could benefit from remedial work. We also have to put up with the train, and a forward thinking person would likely combine the two to make the area even more scenic.

      These are just a few additional reasons to save the dam, other than the fact that it is a piece of our heritage. With the Provincially madated Places to Grow Act, there will be a huge growth in the population targeted to the City core areas. It will be even more important to improve recreational areas such as this. Think of New York without Central Park to help relieve stress and enjoy nature!