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Cheers greet dam removal

Work on the removal of the Edwards Dam, on the Kennebec river, near Augusta in Maine US, started on 1 July amid the cheers of environmental groups and ringing of church bells. The removal of the dam will be completed by November.

The 0.30m high, 28m long dam generated 3.5MW of electricity, and had been in place for almost 162 years. The removal, ordered by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), was ostensibly to improve the passage of anadromous fish and to protect the riverine environment.

Environmentalists claim that the dam, located about 40 miles from the ocean, blocked the passage of nine species of fish protected under the Endangered Species Act. Conservation groups including the Atlantic Salmon Fed-eration, Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, which lead the movement to remove the dam, hope the demolition will open the way for several fish species to reach their natural spawning grounds. The species include the Atlantic salmon, river herring, shad, striped bass and the endangered shortnose sturgeon. The Atlantic Salmon Federation has targeted five more dams for removal.

The national-hydropower-association (NHA) is still questioning whether energy regulators had the legal authority to order the demolition of Edwards dam. Even though the dam has been breached, NHA still wants the FERC order overturned.