By David G. Barber
Recently, I was
sent an editorial and article from the Cleveland
Plain Dealer written as part of a series on the
The dam at this site, just south of the
Ohio Route 82 bridge, was built as part of the canal project to supply water to
the canal north to
The problem is that dams like this one are anathema to some environmentalists on general principles and as they prevent fish migration. They are also said to reduce stream quality. But, I wonder if this is more a generalization that the result of specific, scientific, defendable study of this particular site. The anti dam folks are on a crusade to remove any and all dams including this one.
The letters submitted were interesting. Some said that the dam should be removed even though it would degrade the park. Others said the dam should be replaced by pumps, but I doubt that the operating costs of these would survive future budget cuts. Others said that turning the watered canal into a dry ditch was fine. There were also suggestions that replacing the lock operation demonstrations with a “virtual” simulation was just as good. Fortunately, this sort of thinking is counteracted by those who like a watered canal.
In all of this, I think that many don’t understand engineering. The original and replacement structures were built to supply water to the canal at minimum cost. That would have been the objective the engineers worked to. If other factors are to be included, such as fish migration or safety over a low head dam, that is a redefinition of the goal and a new design can be produced that meets all of the now defined needs at some other cost. Then it is a matter of financing the construction costs of that solution.
One thing that I think reduces the
value of this canal section is the lack of boats to carry the public through the
lock. Then the public would get the whole experience. Such boats don’t have to
be replicas. They could be metal ones with electric power. Or they could be
outboard powered such as the ones that the Park Service uses on the canals in
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