Cumberland Times-News

January 26, 2013

Let’s keep the dam, but remove the sediment from the river

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— There is much can be said in defense of removing the Potomac River dam between Cumberland and Ridgeley and also much to be said in defense of keeping the dam in place.

Removing the dam will open the river to its natural state allow fish migration, and unrestricted use of the river by canoeists passing through the city, leaving it in place would allow the area above the dam to return to its historical use as a boating Mecca.

History tells us that for several decades at the turn of the 20th Century, the placid water provided by the dam was used for boating and other aquatic recreational purposes, and enjoyed by all residents of the Cumberland area.

The pollution of the Potomac River in the first half of the 20th century ended the recreational use of its waters.

Now that the waters of the Potomac River are returning to a quality waterway, it makes no sense to remove the potential of returning these waters to their former recreational use by removing the dam. The real question is what is best for the community?

The most offensive part of the dam removal effort is the fact that downstate, outside influences with an agenda, and pockets full of money come to our area and convince local officials that they know what is best for us.

They then make the changes they promote, and go back home and leave us to deal with the results.

A dam has existed here for 170 years and the only problem it has brought to us is the sediment above the dam that should be removed.

The sediment needs removed whether or not the dam is removed but it seems money will only be available if we agree to the dam removal.

The city of Cumberland and its goal of improving tourism could only benefit from returning the historical use of these waters as a boating Mecca to be enjoyed by area residents and tourists alike.

Following is a quote from an article in a boating periodical from 1909 referring to the city of Cumberland:

“The motorboat owners of this city are planning a series of aquatic contests for July 4th. The program will include a motorboat race, a motorboat parade, an 80 foot high dive from a platform on the Blue Bridge, and a band concert and fireworks in the evening.”

Once the dam is removed such activities as this could no longer occur as all we will be left with is a foot or two of useless water flowing through the city and the return the natural ford between Cumberland and Ridgeley that existed before the first dam was built in the 1840s.

The city should take a hard look at what may be lost if the dam is removed.

Gary Clites

Carpendale, W.Va.