Today I received an email from Gary Gilot, South Bend’s Director of Public Works.  He is seeking letters from citizens to be sent to Congressman Joe Donnelly in support of the city’s request for funding to finance the hydroelectric generator on the dam at Century Center.

Below is the letter I forwarded to Gary to include in the city’s proposal to Congressman Donnelly.  Feel free to write your own letter to the congressman for this important project:

The Honorable Joe Donnelly

United States House of Representatives

1530 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC  20515

 13 March 2009

Dear Congressman Donnelly,

I am writing to express my strong support for the installation of a hydroelectric generator on the St Joe River on the dam at Century Center. 

The city of South Bend owes its existence to the natural resources of the river that runs through us.  From the early French fur trappers, who made their fortunes on the river’s wildlife to Alexis Coquilllard, who oversaw the construction of the dam and races providing water power for South Bend’s first industries, our river has been the heart of the city’s life-source.

Now, as humans face the dire consequences of global warming as a result of burning fossil fuels, every person and every community must do all they can to reduce the production of the greenhouse gases that trap the sun’s heat on our planet.  For my part, I walk, take the bus and ride my bike to work, the grocery store and the market as much as possible.  For her part, the city of South Bend has made a commitment to reduce our community’s impact on global warming by pursuing the construction of a 1.5 Megawatt hydroelectric generator on the dam at Century Center.

This project has multiple benefits:

·         The construction of the generator will employ many skilled laborers in our local workforce; a true blue-green initiative.  

·         The generator will provide enough electricity to power South Bend’s water treatment facility, one of the city’s biggest energy consumers, with the city realizing significant savings on energy costs.

·         Harnessing the emission-free energy of the river will reduce the city’s reliance on coal-fired electricity, thus reducing the city’s contribution to global warming.

·         Reducing our reliance on electricity from coal will reduce the necessity of ecologically devastating mining practices that are irreversibly stripping this country’s natural heritage.


·         The plans for South Bend’s hydroelectric project includes a wheelchair accessible windowed concourse, allowing visitors to go below the river’s surface to watch the turbines on one side and fish migrating up the ladder on the other.  Modeled after a hugely popular design of a hydro generator and fish ladder in Seattle, this feature will attract thousands of visitors to South Bend’s downtown every year.   I know many families who would delight in visiting such an attraction in South Bend; as you can imagine, the educational and economic impact of this project is completely in the city’s favor.

I urge you to support South Bend’s fiscal 2010 appropriations request for this project.