Volunteer dam will be bulldozed

Bill James Dam set for decommissioning by Department of Fisheries and Oceans

  • Sep. 26, 2012 5:00 a.m.

There is not one person or group in the Sooke area that is involved with the salmon fishery that doesn’t think decommissioning the Bill James Dam on DeMamiel Creek is a good thing. In fact it is just the opposite.

Despite letters, phone calls and media attention, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is unwavering in its plan to bulldoze the earthen dam near the headwaters of DeMamiel Creek.

The dam was built in the 1970s by a group of volunteers with a $27,000 LIP grant.  At the time, they set up a kitchen, picnic tables and even outhouses for the use of the close to 100 volunteers who worked on the dam. They had loggers and housewives, commercial fishermen and grandmas all with the same goal in mind — building a dam to control the water flow into DeMamiel Creek for the benefit of the salmon that spawn there. The Sooke Lions Club coordinated the efforts, with Percy Brown of Becher Bay sparking the efforts. The idea then, as it is now, was to store water so it could be released into DeMamiel Creek during the low water periods in the summer. It was to help maintain and increase the coho salmon stocks which are crucial to the fishery.The salmon run at DeMamiel is the largest run on South Vancouver Island.

The dam was rebuilt in 1998 at an estimated cost of over $250,000 and again much of the work was done by volunteers.

Glen Varney, who was part of a rebuild in 1998, says the issue of decommissioning the dam is a “hot potato” issue. The decision to decommission is due in part to the failure of the Testalinden Lake dam in Oliver. But, the Bill James dam is not the same, said Varney.

“When the dam let go in Oliver, the province looked at all water licenses with dams. It was an embarrassment for DFO (the Testalinden Lake dam),” said Varney.

Varney said the control valve installed by DFO for the Bill James dam was put on the wrong side. It was placed on the downstream side where it should have been in the upstream or middle portion.

“It is pretty embarrassing on DFO’s part not to put the valve on the right part.”

After the dam let go in Oliver, an assessment was needed for the Bill James dam and Varney stated that an engineer’s report would cost about $50,000 along with another $50,000 to repair the location of the valve.

“From a volunteer standpoint, there are people willing to go up and do it and it would cost very little,” said Varney.

The dam is for water storage and prior to DFO removing the control valve, it was opened up in late July and closed in early March. It was one of three water storage units controlled by the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society. The society regulates flow from Young Lake on a daily basis to monitor flow into the lower part of DeMamiel Creek.

But DFO has made plans, as outlined in their email response.

“The Department plans to complete decommissioning the dam on DeMamiel Creek in the summer of 2013. A technical analysis of the dam’s storage and release capabilities indicates that it does not release enough water to provide a tangible benefit to downstream salmon habitat and coho salmon. DFO will be working with the property owner, TimberWest, to revegetate the area around the dam and to ensure the land is returned to a stable and natural state,” said Kirsten Ruecker, communications advisor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region.

 

editor@sookenews mirror.com

Just Posted

Sooke’s quest for a new library mired in delays and controversy

District now confident new page turned in planned construction of building

Showers ahead for Tuesday morning

Plus a look ahead at the week

Cirque du Soleil brings dazzling ice show Axel to Victoria this spring

Axel includes acrobatics, ice skating, live music and more

Victoria woman reunited with lost family photos dating back to 1970s

‘You can watch their family grow up in these photos,’ says woman who found the box of forgotten photos

Municipal watchdog call Victoria councillors’ request for salary increase ‘boneheaded’

Grumpy Taxpayer$ wish to see reductions in councillor wages to meet local average

VIDEO: The sticky truth about winter moths and how Greater Victoria arborists fight them

Winter moths have ‘killed a lot of trees’ across the region, says Oak Bay arborist

12 Sooke events to get you into the holiday spirit

From a Santa parade to classicial music, Sooke has it all

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Sentencing scheduled Tuesday for man who killed Belgian tourist

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Sakkalis near Boston Bar

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Most Read