Dam removal would hurt economy
Powerhouse Dam requires rehabilitation and perhaps additional safety features, but not removal. Removal of Powerhouse Dam would have an adverse economic impact on property owners above the dam and on Morgan County.
Property values along the riverfront would certainly drop substantially with any reduction in water volume in the river. The Cacapon River is the primary reason many homeowners purchased land here and frankly, the river is often already too low in July and August for tubing, swimming, canoeing, fishing and other recreational activities.
While it is true that the several hundred property owners above the dam would be most directly affected, dam removal would adversely impact the whole county. The owners of upstream properties pay substantial county property, fire and ambulance taxes, yet do not attend schools here or otherwise consume county resources. Lower property values caused by dam removal will result in less tax revenue for vital county programs.
Like other county residents, upstream property owners make generous contributions to local charities and fundraisers, including for the Great Cacapon Fire Department. Additionally, both full time residents and weekenders above the dam generate substantial local economic activity by constructing and renovating homes, picking up supplies and provisions, and shopping in Berkeley Springs’ wonderful shops and farmers market.
Removing Powerhouse Dam is an overreaction to an unfortunate accident. The adverse economic impacts of dam removal and potential loss of an important cultural resource make dam removal unwarranted and unjustified, particularly when other more cost effective alternatives exist such as installing improved warning signage.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As stated in our April 24 article, the state has recommended action on the dam since the 1970s.