No valid reasons to remove Mon Maq Dam

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

     Removal of the Mon Maq Dam is in a word-UNNECESSARY! It appears County officials are busy chasing grants, which is putting pressure on them to hurry things through to meet a grant deadline, rather than exploring other options such a historic preservation. Grants continue to be purported as “free money” but taxpayers know there is no such thing and we will be paying the bill! It is a disservice to rush to destroy the dam and do something the majority of the community does not want to do, without first going through proper procedures of evaluation of an historical site. Through the years there have been many proposals. But there has never been a study as to what it would take to restore the existing dam nor any option presented for preservation. Riverside Gardens and surrounding wetlands will be another loss from the dam removal and accompanying drop in river levels. Who will pay for clean up of the muddy mess if the ponds and wetlands dry up? Removing the dam is purported by county officials to be necessary for the following reasons and premises:

     1. To save maintenance and upkeep: Jones County has neglected the dam and I believe officials have provided essentially NO maintenance for the 50 years since they owned it.

     2. Dam failure and increased costs: If maintained properly this is less likely to happen. It has been able to survive all floods thus far without any maintenance.

     3. Dams are dangerous: There have been no drownings at the dam in over 100 years. Why aren’t we looking at improving the Dam in Anamosa where several drownings are documented if safety is the concern?

     4. Blocking of fish passage: We do not have any species in the Maquoketa that require movement and upstream spawning such as salmon.

     5. Dam has a 50-100 year lifespan: Although this dam is 100-plus years old, it has the potential with proper care and maintenance to be a landmark and a site of beauty for many years to come.

     6. Navigation impediment: This is a very short portage around the dam. Canoeists and tubers have great opportunities on the stretch between the Mon Maq Dam to Eby’s Mill where hundreds travel the river weekly. We want this to continue.

     7. Angling success: Local fishermen attest to the fact that fishing will be depleted or destroyed with dam removal.

     8. Increased flooding upstream can occur due to presence of dams: I am not sure of this but have not heard that Mon Maq Dam was a major factor in any flooding in the past.

     These premises offered by the Jones County Conservation Director and Conservation Board just do not justify Mon Maq Dam removal. We must weigh the choices. County officials have not provided valid compelling reasons and justification to remove an historic structure that with proper care and maintenance can continue to be a landmark for Jones County.

Cindy Brokens

Scotch Grove, Iowa


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