Published by the South Bend Tribune on 2/14/08

Across America, mayors are committing to address the threat of global climate change by signing on to the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities agreement. As Mayor Steve Luecke considers taking up the challenge to reduce South Bend’s carbon footprint, we must urge city officials to reconsider installation of the 1.5 megawatt hydroelectric power generator on the East Race, originally proposed in the 1980’s. The power of the St Joe could generate enough electricity to run the waste treatment plant and water works completely free of fossil-fuel. The design for the hydroelectric project, completed by Lawson-Fisher Associates, is still completely feasible, and South Bend yet possesses the permit to build the plant. One of the coolest features of the Lawson-Fisher design is a wheelchair-accessible concourse that takes visitors below water level, between the generator and fish ladder. Modeled after one of the biggest tourist attractions in Seattle, windows on either side of the concourse allow visitors to view the turbines on one side of the river and fish migrating up the river on the other. Embracing this design would draw hundreds of visitors to our fair city and all she has to offer; harnessing the power of the St Joe river would be a giant step towards sustainability and embracing the gifts the river has to offer.