| Feb 03, 2005

Feature Article February 3, 2005

Feature article February 3, 2005

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MNRDam Plans Concern North Frontenac Council

by Jeff Green

A delegation of Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) engineers came to a meeting of Council in North Frontenac last week to outline the plans the MNR has developed concerning the five dams they own within the township.

Tim Lee and Mitch Close of the MNR introduced Jim Bertulli, from the engineering firm of Cumming Cockburn Limited, who conducted a study of the dams with a view towards making the dams safer and controlling operating costs.

A set of Federal Dam Safety guidelines have been in place for five years, and the MNR has been conducting five or six dam safety reviews each year on the 325 dams we own. Last fall, we looked at six dams in the Mazinaw area, five of which are located in North Frontenac.


Bertullis proposed remedial actions had been forwarded to the township earlier and the MNR had requested comments from the township by February 3. Before outlining the proposed work plan for each of the five dams in turn, Bertulli described the three priorities set out by the Ministry. There are three priorities: safety; minimizing maintenance; and considering all environmental and social outcomes, Bertulli said.

Of the five dams, two, the Mosque Lake dam and the Malcolm Lake dam, will look and function in about the same way they do now once work is completed, although there will be a fair bit of work done at Malcolm Lake.

The dam at Summit Lake was described by Bertulli as a horse of different colour. The dam was designed to maintain water levels on Palmerston Lake and to create a brook trout fishery. It is recommended that the dam be removed.

Bertulli said the brook trout fishery had not developed, partly because the oxygen levels in the water had been diminished as an effect of the dams operation, and that if the dam is gone, water levels on Palmeston Lake will only be altered by 2 or 3 inches.

Bertulli said the Summit Lake dam was put in a time when the impact of its operation on the environment was not as fully understood as it is now. The dam is destructive to wildlife, he said.

Bertulli recommends removing all dam structures from the bridge at Palmerston Lake and building a new dam in close proximity. He said the bridge would remain open during construction.

In the case of the Canonto Lake dam, which he described as being at best in fair condition, Bertulli recommends that the dam be removed and replaced.

After waiting through the entire presentation, Councillor Dave Smith jumped in, saying I think whats going to happen is that well end up being saddled with all the dams.

Tim Lee of the MNR said, There is no mechanism for that to happen. Unless there is a willing partner, we will not be divesting ourselves of the dams.

Smith remained sceptical, saying Weve heard this kind of story before, referring to the downloading of roads and bridges from the provincial government.

Deputy Mayor Gleva Lemke raised two major concerns. One was the environmental effect of blasting during construction, and the other had to do with the silica, a toxic substance contained in the concrete that will need to be either buried or hauled away. Some of the areas involved are designated as provincially important Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest, Lemke said, and the effects of construction and demolition to sensitive wildlife are a real concern.

Tim Lee said that silica poses a danger primarily in an airborne state as dust, and this will affect the workers involved in the demolition, It does not have an impact in the water. He also said there were ways to mitigate for the effects of blasting.

The program that is envisioned will take five years to implement. We have a tentative budget to do Summit Lake this year, said Tim Lee.

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