Removing One Maine Dam 20 Years Ago Changed Everything

Photo: NRCM

More than 1,000 people lined the banks of the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine, on July 1, 1999. They were there to witness a rebirth.

The ringing of a bell signaled a backhoe on the opposite bank to dig into a retaining wall. Water trickled, then gushed. The crowd erupted in cheers as the Edwards Dam, which had stretched 900 feet across the river, was breached. Soon the whole dam would be removed.

Those who advocated for the dam’s removal promised that devastated fisheries would return, and the city of Augusta would benefit from new recreational opportunities and a revitalization of the riverfront.

They were right. But it wasn’t just Augusta where change was felt.

The removal of Edwards Dam became a pivotal moment in the history of the environmental movement and river restoration in the United States. It was the first functioning hydroelectric dam to be removed — and the first time the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ever voted, against the wishes of a dam owner, not to relicense a dam.

LINK (via: The Revelator)

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