Monday, December 28, 2009

OAR Takes a Position

After what felt like years of: "We have no official position on dam removal", OARs executive director has finally taken a look at the real impacts of dam removal and has said:

The primary source of phosphorus is known to be the four municipal wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the river. In conjunction with the study, OAR convened two River Restoration Workshops to inform the community—and ourselves—about how dam removal could affect river water quality, river ecology, and the watershed as a whole. In these workshops we learned that although dam removal can have a positive impact on river water quality and provide better habitat by allowing free fish passage, among other benefits, it is an extremely complicated process and requires, at minimum, willing dam owners, a supportive river community, and lengthy regulatory review.

Given the great uncertainty in the cost estimates of the dam removals and accompanying site restoration, the lack of support of the largest dam owners, and objections by communities affected by some of the larger dams, OAR believes that removing dams, either singly or in combination, is not a viable option for achieving water quality standards for the Assabet River for Phase 2 NPDES permitting.

While we agree that removing these dams is not a viable option. We are concerned about OARs qualifications: "for achieving water quality standards for the Assabet River for Phase 2 NPDES permitting". We hope no one at OAR thinks, that based on everything that is now known about removing the Ben Smith Dam, that removing it might be a viable option at all, for the foreseeable future.

We do wholeheartedly agree that the wastewater treatment facilities must be made to clean up their own mess and not to continue to expect communities downstream to pay the price for their less than neighborly behavior.

"Based on results of this modeling effort, it was concluded that winter limits for the WWTFs, below the current planned limit of 1 mg/L would contribute significantly to the reduction in sediment phosphorus flux.” It goes on to state that: “If no other improvements were implemented, further reductions in summer P discharge limits, below 0.1 mg/L, would not contribute significantly to further reduction in sediment phosphorus flux. This is because the winter instream phosphorus concentration has such a strong effect on the P flux the following summer.” (CDM Report p. 6-7, emphasis added)

the CDM Report shows that lower winter phosphorus limits, in combination with the planned WWTF upgrades mandated by Phase 1 permits, would offer immediate and achievable water quality improvements. We believe that this approach would benefit the river, the wildlife that lives in and around the river, and the communities that have grown up along it.

Hear! Hear!

How do we make sure this is what really happens?

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