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Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011 12:35 pm

Letters to the Editor 08/11/11


The proposed Hunter Lake (north is at right on map) would be a 3,010-acre reservoir south of Springfield. Mayor Michael Houston, a proponent of the lake, recently called for a meeting with state and federal officials to discuss feasibility of the controve

Mayor Houston promised us a balanced budget, but it looks like he wants to spend money we don’t have on Hunter Dam, a project we don’t need. Federal regulators have said three times Hunter Dam is a turkey. And that’s just for starters. If it ever gets approved, it will take years to get the rest of the land and build the stupid thing, to the tune of $80 million.

That price tag assumes (1) no need to dredge for 50 years, (2) no need for riprap beyond the area of the dam, (3) that construction costs have not gone up in 10 years, and (4) there won’t be any lawsuits. Even with such assumptions, it will require a gigantic soaking of CWLP’s ratepayers.

We don’t even need it. First, we have only begun to realize water savings from federally mandated plumbing code changes back in the 90s. Second, water demand is flat, not increasing. Third, CWLP’s figures for “need” don’t include a real conservation program, and assume our aldermen are too stupid to restrict lawn watering in the worst imaginable drought. Fourth, some of the projected “need” was originally for Chatham and areas CWLP doesn’t even serve, and Chatham is getting its own water. Fifth, even CWLP’s skewed figures (designed to justify building a lake) admit we’d only need an additional 7.8 million gallons a day in the worst drought – an amount, it turns out, we can obtain much faster and far cheaper from other sources.

Kudos to Alderman Dove, who publicly advocates for better, cheaper alternatives to the massive costs and environmental destruction represented by Hunter Dam. Mayor Houston will undoubtedly be told by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pump test the gravel pits. Why hasn’t the city done this already? Are they afraid the results will be the last nail in the coffin of the Hunter Boondoggle? With the city flat dead broke, and with talk of cutting police, firefighting and other basic services, wasting huge amounts of money on a needless turkey project like Hunter Dam is irresponsible.

Don Hanrahan

I have personal insight into your July 28 article, “The science lab at the statehouse,” by Tara McClellan McAndrew. In the late ’40s my dad, after serving as a medic in WWII and earning a degree in microbiology from the University of Illinois, began working for the Department of Public Health, Division of Laboratories. By the time I was in grade school in the late ’50s the lab was located in a converted ballroom in the Orpheum Theater.

Dad was required to work some Saturdays to run cultures and at times would let me tag along. Our first stop was to the post office to pick up a canvas mailbag full of metal canisters containing test tubes of blood, urine and an occasional animal head for the brain to be tested for rabies. Even as a youngster I thought the ornately adorned ballroom ceilings and beautiful oak floors juxtaposed against lab equipment was a srange look. Of course dad gave me strict “no touch” orders. I was always humored by the speed of the centrifuge. After the Orpheum was razed, the lab relocated to the corner of Ninth and Jefferson, next to the bus station. I believe the building was formerly part of the Prairie Farms Dairy complex. The Aug. 24, 1965, fire created some family anxiety with the thought of having to relocate. Thankfully, that did not happen. In terms of safety, Dad was fully aware of the dangers of handling biohazards. Lab guys wash their hands before and after going to the bathroom.

Greg Davis

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