Letters: Open letter to DFO

Low water flow in DeMamiel Creek should make dam safe

Dear Ms. Lapcevic,

Thank you very much for taking the trouble to reply to my e-mail of concern about the proposed de-commissioning of the Bill James Dam.

Unfortunately your attached letter raises more questions than it purports to answer. I am particularly puzzled by the somewhat vague and imprecise statement, “DFO have confirmed that the Bill James Dam Reservoir is not adequate to fulfill its intended purpose of storing sufficient water to augment the water flows in De Mamiel Creek.”

What does “not adequate” mean?  Presumably the dam does augment the flow by some non-zero amount. If so, how much flow will be lost by decommissioning? In low flows, every small incremental amount will make a difference. So how many juvenile fish will be lost which would have otherwise survived in spite of the “inadequacy?”

If the dam was/is “not adequate” when it was built, why was it originally  approved and why did DFO apply for and hold water licenses C0064007 and C114928? Was the dam “adequate” then but “not adequate” now? What can possibly have changed?

In truth, your last sentence reveals the real reason this dam is being removed. “ Please note that under Section 4(1) of the Water Act of BC Dam Safety regulations, DFO has received approval to decommission Bill James Dam.” The dam has fallen victim to a paranoid and misguided bureaucratic decision that there is somehow a safety concern with this dam.

It is a tragedy for our fish resources, and for all the people who worked hard to create approve and build this dam.

If the dam is “not adequate” to augment the stream flows in Demamiel Creek it must certainly be “not adequate” to present any measurable risk to life or property. In addition, there is a gentle incline to Young Lake which also moderates the flows. As many people have noted, this is a short sighted and stupid move. Instead of working to save and rejuvenate the legacy and investment, and hard work of many who have gone before, DFO can only destroy it.

It is utterly stupefying and very, very sad.

Dr. Roland M. Alcock

Sooke