Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s first presentation of its 25th annual Winter Speaker Series, “Mega-Dams, Mega Problems!,” features Roger Wheeler, president of Friends of Sebago Lake.

The first event has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13. Presentations, again being held via Zoom, are accessible at fomb.org.

Hydroelectric power, particularly involving the construction and operation of large or mega dams does not produce green energy, according to a news release from Friends of Merrymeeting Bay. Building these machines uses tons of fossil fuel creating plenty of greenhouse gases. Once built, the large reservoirs or “blue deserts” continue discharging methane (and some CO2) for years as submerged vegetation decomposes. These blue deserts become relatively warmer bodies of water affecting local climate through their moderating meteorological effects.

Wheeler retired in 2017 after a career in public education. His interests in the environment including the powers of wind, water and ice were nurtured from early experiences along Sebago Lake in the 1960s with his father, a geologist.

In the late 1980s, the SD Warren Paper Company, managing Eel Weir the Lake’s outlet dam, changed its flow management of Sebago. The shoreline-protecting beach quickly eroded away from the new longer duration of higher average lake levels throughout the summer and fall. Water quality, without natural fluctuations, degraded.

Residents took action. What happened next for Wheeler has been a 30-plus-year learning experience about lake, river, coastal environments and the politics of water control.

Roger helped the organization, Friends of Sebago Lake, participate in regulatory actions that advocated restoration of historic natural lake/river flow regimes that more mimicked the seasonal cycle. FOSL’s research and documentation of pre-dam Sebago Lake anadromous fish populations led to a landmark victory for fish passage at the US Supreme Court in SD Warren Co. v. Maine BEP.

FOSL did not give up with the SCOTUS victory but expanded its altered flows research, soon uncovering the works of scientists Hans Neu, Michael Rozengurt and others who understood how dams can detrimentally affect the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and the biosphere, altering the climate and devastating marine fisheries.

The organization will host its Winter Speaker Series through May, the second Wednesday of each month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series continues via Zoom.

The Nov. 10 presentation, “Neptune’s Navy! Sea Shepherd on the Front Lines,” is scheduled to feature Tamara Arenovich, communications coordinator for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

For more information, contact FOMB at 207-666-3372 or [email protected].

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