Environmental groups and supporters of a Summit County Metropark say they're strongly opposed to a proposal to build a hydro-electric plant on the Cuyahoga River. The proposed plant would be constructed on an existing dam built in 1916 on the Cuyahoga between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls. Opponents say the original hydro-electric plant, which was abandoned more than 50 years ago, never made much electricity. Nor would this new project. Preliminary permits filed by Advance Hydro Solutions of Akron call for less than 2.5 Megawatts of electricity a year, enough to power only about a thousand homes. ideastream's Karen Schaefer reports.
In addition, Summit Parks Natural Resource director Mike Johnson says the project would wipe out four acres of old growth forest along the dam gorge. He says it would also spoil the natural beauty of the park and threaten a number of endangered species. Elaine Marsh, president of the Friends of the Crooked River, believes the new construction would dramatically increase pollution in the river and degrade water quality. She says billions of public dollars have been invested into cleaning up the Cuyahoga River, the poster child for the Clean Water Act. For that reason alone, Marsh believes, the project is not in the public interest.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has already filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has sitting authority for the project. The EPA would rather see the dam removed, but officials say if the project is approved, no demolition could go forward for the life of the plant's license, generally a period of 50 years.
The first public hearings on environmental impacts from the Edison Gorge Dam project will be held Wednesday, July 27 in Cuyahoga Falls at the Sheraton Suites, 1989 Front St. in Cuyahoga Falls. A public tour of the proposed power plant project will be offered by Advanced Hydro Solutions July 26th at 1:30 p.m. at Gorge Metro Park, 1160 Front St. in Cuyahoga Falls.