LETTER: Remove Piqua’s antiquated dam


To the Editor:

There are many good reasons for removing the ancient Piqua dam that once helped power the city. First, the unused and unmaintained dam located on the Great Miami River is dangerous to those using the river recreationally. Low head dams are death obstacles, warns the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Dams carry a back tow that violently capture their victims and cause death. Even if canoers put in downstream, the tow is so powerful that it can cause canoes to be pulled back into the inescapable “boil.” Losses of life and liability issues are a real concern.

Secondly, if unused dams are removed environmental, conservation, and wildlife habitat development occurs in the water and along the banks. Since 1912, 1,767 dams have been removed in the U.S.; throughout the country 69 dams were removed in 2020 across 23 states including Ohio, which had the most dam removals in 2020. (Source: American Rivers, Americanrivers.org, Feb. 18, 2021)

Thirdly, economically the city saves the cost for tax payers’ maintenance on an unused structure and the environmental benefits of increased fish species, renewed wildlife habitats and ecosystem health, and recreational use of the river adds to the economic development of the city’s infrastructure. As an example, the Elkhart River, Elkhart, Indiana, realized 16 species of fish in that river and the population integrated by approximately 50 species of fish attributed to a dam removal. Dam removal on the South Branch of the Gale River in New Hampshire resulted in river connectivity prioritizations and restoration of connectivity of approximately 15 miles of river above the dam and approximately 21 miles downstream of the dam, thereby, improving the river’s environmental and wildlife habitat for an entire region.

Fourthly, the aesthetically and recreational use of the river increases with the river going back to the natural flow of the stream. Piqua’s entire economic development plan for years has been about riverfront development. By making the river better for wildlife and recreation would only be an asset toward that plan.

Fifth, during this era of environmental concerns, funding has been available for dam removal. Recently, lobbying groups have been requesting even more funds for dam removals within the recent government’s infrastructure packages.

There isn’t a good reason for keeping an unused, unmaintained, life-threatening structure. Piqua can apply for funding now or wait until the federal government demands that the city remove the antiquated dam and pay for it with your local taxes.

— Terry D. Wright


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