To the editor:
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced it has accepted a final license application for the Oneida Narrows dam. The Oneida Narrows is a critical wildlife habitat and beloved destination for boating and fishing.
Although constructing the dam would produce short-term economic benefits, in the long-term, the dam is not in the best interest of the local economy.
Proponents argue the dam will create non-polluting hydroelectricity, increase storage for irrigation water, and create jobs, but in reality, the proposed dam is a poor site for water storage. The canyon is, as its name suggests, too narrow to hold much irrigation water. And, the reservoir would have to be kept at least 70 percent full for the water to provide sufficient force to generate electricity.
The site is a good one for generating hydropower, but the Idaho Department of Water Resources found that because of the already steep stream gradient, hydroelectricity can be produced at the site without the dam.
Most of the jobs created would be short-term construction jobs. Over 30 years, only 2.5 jobs would be created, while, even according to the rosy estimates of the Twin Lakes Canal Company, at least 1.6 jobs would be permanently lost. That is a net gain of less than one job.
Area businesses would also be harmed. Although there are nine reservoirs with public access, the Oneida Narrows isthe most popular fishing destination in Franklin County, and a third of the visitors come from more than 40 miles away. Over the past decade, half a million dollars has been invested in improving public access, an investment that will be destroyed if the dam is built.
Simply, the benefit to TLCC shareholders from building the dam is not worth the environmental and economic costs of destroying a beautiful canyon that attracts outside visitors to southern Idaho. Comments of protest may be filed at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp until Dec. 17.