February 5, 2010

Flip Flop Applesauce

The Journal-Sentinel has reported that Milwaukee County could begin courting a private developer to build a hydroelectric power plant near Estabrook Dam under a plan the County Board’s parks committee endorsed this week.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper (as stated earlier in our position paper) are against the repair of the Estabrook Dam, and we see the hydropower effort as another action by the County Board to find justification for keeping a failing dam that creates a safety hazard and provides little public benefit.

There is no purpose or need for hydropower at this location; the proposed project would not create enough energy to power to justify the huge environmental impacts on the Milwaukee River, which could include dewatering 750 feet of river, at least 6 feet of bed excavation, water quality degradation, etc.

The study is predicated on the County Board paying for dam repairs, in the tune of 8-12M dollars, paying another 4M dollars to create the facility, licensing/permitting the facility, and then operating and maintaining it. The private facility would “buy” water rights from the County.

That is a big stretch for a County that has essentially failed to do anything but the most minimal of maintenance over the last several decades. Indeed, that has gotten the county into this situation where the DNR is ordering repair or removal, as the dam poses a threat to human health and safety should it fail.

For more information please see the attached study by Titus, the contractor the County hired to investigate the proposition, as well as our comments to the County Board.

To read the recent JSOnline article click here.

For more information about the Estabrook Dam and to read our position paper click here.