The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Board of Directors received good news and bad news about its dams in Clarksburg at its regular meeting last Wednesday.
The Haines Dam in Clarksburg is in very poor shape and may have to be removed by the Conservation Authority in the near future. On the other hand the Clendenan Dam is in strong shape and has no immediate major repairs required.
The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Board of Directors received a full report about all of the Dams it owns and operates throughout the watershed at last Wednesday’s regular meeting.
Water Management Director of Operations Doug Hill delivered the report at the meeting. The report detailed purpose and current state of repair of each dam the Authority owns and operates. The Board of Directors discussed the report in significant detail at the meeting (see related story in this issue).
The Haines Dam in Clarksburg warranted particular attention in the report because it is in very poor condition and serves very little purpose.
Hill said the Haines Dam is in excess of 100 years old. In the 1980s the Authority considered removing the Dam, but significant local opposition to that idea prevented that from happening. At the time a significant investment was made into the structure using provincial funds.
"There are still some issues with this dam," Hill told the Board at the meeting. He said the dam in reality serves no useful purpose. The structure is approximately three metres in height and the reservoir behind it is completely filled with sediment. "This is a significant liability for us. The dam has no current purpose or use and if it breaks we will have a serious environmental issue on our hands," said Hill.
He said water is currently seeping through the north embankment of the dam resulting in erosion and the risk of the bank eventually failing and releasing the built up sediment behind the dam.
Hill said the Authority faces a significant cost with the Haines Dam regardless of how it chooses to proceed in the future.
"The dam has no recreational benefit, no wildlife habitat benefit and no flood control benefit. It’s more of a liability," said Hill. In order to remove the dam the Authority would have to incur significant costs to remove the built up sediment in the reservoir. "There’s a significant cost to maintain this dam and there’s significant costs to take it out. Either way, down the road it will require significant costs," he said.
The authority built the Clendenan Dam in 1975 immediately upstream of Clarksburg. It cost approximately $1 million and estimated to be worth $5 million now. It is the largest dam the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority owns. Hill said Clendenan Dam is in generally good condition and doesn’t require major repairs. The Authority is monitoring a slight problem with settlement of the earthen berm over the fish way.
"The dam has functioned very well in terms of capturing ice during break ups," said Hill.
Authority Chair Dick Hibma said eventually the Board of Directors would have to make a decision about the Haines Dam and begin preparing for the financial implications of what will need to be done. He said he leaned towards supporting the removal of the Dam and said that decision will have to be made upfront in order to communicate to member municipalities the financial requirements the maintenance of all the Authority’s dams will require.