Merrymeeting Bay Group to Host Conference on “Mega-Dams, Mega Problems”

The Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s first presentation of their 25th Annual Winter Lecture Series, “Mega Dams, Mega Problems!” “, Stars Roger Wheeler, president of the Friends of Sebago Lake.

The first event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday October 13. The presentations, which again run via Zoom, are available on fomb.org.

Hydroelectric power, including the construction and operation of large or mega-dams, does not produce green energy, according to a statement from Friends of Merrymeeting Bay. The construction of these machines uses tons of fossil fuels, creating a lot of greenhouse gases. Once built, large reservoirs or “blue deserts” continue to release methane (and CO2) for years as submerged vegetation decomposes. These blue deserts become relatively warmer bodies of water affecting the local climate through their moderating weather effects.

Wheeler retired in 2017 after a career in public education. His interests in the environment, including the powers of wind, water and ice, were fueled by his first experiences along Lake Sebago in the 1960s with his father, a geologist.

In the late 1980s, the SD Warren Paper Company, which operated the Eel Weir Lake outlet dam, changed its management of the Sebago flow. The beach protecting the shoreline quickly eroded due to the new longer duration of the higher average lake levels throughout the summer and fall. Water quality, without natural fluctuations, degraded.

The residents took action. What happened next for Wheeler was over 30 years of learning about lakes, rivers, coastal environments and water control policies.

Roger helped the organization, Friends of Sebago Lake, participate in regulatory action that advocated the restoration of historic natural lake / river flow regimes that more mimicked the seasonal cycle. FOSL’s research and documentation of anadromous fish populations in Sebago Lake before the dam led to a historic victory for fish passage in the United States Supreme Court in SD Warren Co. v. Maine BEP.

FOSL did not give up the victory of SCOTUS but expanded its research into altered fluxes, soon discovering the work of scientists Hans Neu, Michael Rozengurt and others who understood how dams can harm the geosphere, the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere, modifying the climate and devastating marine fisheries.

The organization will be holding its Winter Lecture Series until May, the second Wednesday of each month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series continues via Zoom.

The November 10 presentation, “The Navy of Neptune! Sea Shepherd on the Front Lines, ”said Tamara Arenovich, communications coordinator for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

For more information, contact FOMB at 207-666-3372 or [email protected].

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