I’m a fan of hydro power and the clean energy it provides. But, as a commercial fisherman, I’m against Alaska Power & Telephone’s Connelly Lake dam. No matter how much research is done, there’s no guarantee the dam won’t harm the fisheries.
AP&T’s reports estimated the value of the Chilkoot River system fishery at more than $1 million annually. Alaska Department of Fish & Game estimates that 41 percent of the sockeye in the upper Lynn Canal District comes from there.
The approximately 14-mile road construction required for two of AP&T’s four alternative dam plans could not help but cause siltation in spawning beds and cloudy water, which would block the light needed to grow the plankton that feeds the salmon fry. Avalanches on the road access are common. They’ve destroyed houses at the end of Lutak Road.
Also, dams do fail. Since 1972 there have been at least 42 failures, 15 of those in the United States. Haines is in seismic zone “3,” which means Richter Scale “6” earthquakes, with the power to topple walls and buildings, can occur.
It’s said we need the dam because the underwater cable now providing hydroelectric power may be compromised, yet to get the power from Connelly to Skagway will require a similar cable.
Why should we allow a dam, mostly being built to supply visiting cruise ships with electricity, when it has the potential to harm a fishery that has always supplied food and income to Haines residents and $4,762,986 in raw fish tax revenue from 1990 to 2013 to the Haines Borough?