Vote ‘Yes’ for a healthy Piscataquis River

To the Editor;

On June 11, Dover-Foxcroft voters will decide whether to enter agreements to pursue grant funds for the removal of the Mayo Mill Dam and for a plan for a restored riverfront. I will be voting “Yes” on this question and I want to share my reasons in case they are useful for others. For well over a year, the Town of Dover-Foxcroft has evaluated many possible options the town could take to address our aging, obsolete dam, including the potential for restoring power generation, reducing the impact on flooding, restoring passage of native sea-run fish, managing sediment build-up, and restoring vegetation along the river.

Since the dam stopped producing power in 2008, many hydropower engineering firms have declined to invest in rebuilding the dam, because the amount of power that could be generated would not be profitable for investors. While not suitable for its original purpose, the dam does have a harmful influence on flood patterns along the Piscataquis River. The dam elevates the water level upstream of the dam and during flooding conditions this increases the risk to vulnerable areas in downtown Dover-Foxcroft. The best solution to reduce the risk of flooding for buildings, public infrastructure, and transportation corridors is to remove this obsolete dam.

While the dam remains, water that is held behind the dam in the impoundment area is subject to physical, thermal and chemical changes in both impounded and downstream waters. Water quality is impacted by higher temperatures, higher concentration of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus and lower dissolved oxygen and pH. These conditions favor invasive species over native species of fish and are ideal conditions for growth of cyanobacteria or harmful algae blooms. Removal of the dam is the optimal path to a healthy river and to recovery of populations of native sea-run fish and other aquatic species. Without the barrier of the dam, sea-run fish can get to ideal spawning habitat in the Piscataquis River.

Dam removal is the option with the lowest construction and future maintenance costs. It is the most effective way to promote survival of native endangered species, reduce the risk of flooding in downtown, allow natural flushing of sediments and returning the river to a healthy free-flowing ecology. Because dam removal hits the targets for ecological recovery and infrastructure resilience, aligns with Dover-Foxcroft’s Downtown Revitalization and Comprehensive Plans and resolves overdue compliance with federal regulatory obligations, this option has the greatest potential for competitive grant funding, at no cost to taxpayers.

I hope you will join me in voting “Yes” on Question 3.

Carole Boothroyd


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