A band of about 25 concerned citizens of Mississippi Mills turned out to th Barley Mow on Tuesday May 1 to discuss the formation of a group to protect the great asset that is the Mississippi River. The meeting, chaired by Bryn Matthews, was spurred by the Enerdu project to dam the Mississippi at Almonte and to add a turbine and large housing which participants anticipate will damage both the environment of the Mississippi at Almonte and upriver. Feelings run high over this project which has caused a public outcry, but Matthews suggested the best result will be obtained by keeping the emotional tone controlled.
Mike O'Malley observed that he has been involved of the clean up of the Mississippi River since 1994 when he moved to Appleton and noticed condoms floating in the river. After participating in the removal of tons of trash from the river, he has had to sit back and watch the wetland trees die over an eight year period. He is of the view that there has been mismanagement of the river and noted that the river is a defining feature of Almonte. The key issues he identified are elevating the value of the river as it defines our community and to give one united voice to defend it; to preserve the character and aesthetic of the river. He is hoping that the group will clearly establish the citizen’s view of the river and articulate it.Other issues are water levels and flow management. He noted that Ottawa River keeper Meredith Brown has invited the group to form a "tributary" group" to protect the Mississippi.
Al Seaman, a passionate defender of the river who has lived in the area since 1967 criticized the flash boards put up in the summer which he stated used to just top the weir and were only in place part of the summer. Since 2004 they jut 1/2 metre above the weir and are there all the time. He attributes the rise in upstream water levels to the flash boards.
Cathy Black stated that the current Enerdu project will all be enclosed behing the new weir and the new building will jut out into the water occupying 2/5 of the river. She has contacted Enerdu several times without satisfaction. They advise her that no elevations of the structures are available.
A computer generated image of the river, based on the project material available on the web, showed the river as it will look at the completion of the Enerdu project. It shows a flat expanse of water, with the attractive cascading first falls completely obliterated.
The organizers noted that there was a great deal of environmental expertise in the room and the organzation that will be formed intends to closely monitor scientific evidence presented to Ministry officials and to prepare its own.
The meeting concluded with volunteers indicating their commitment to serve on the executive committee and a sign up of interested and committed individuals to work on this project.