Two dams located on Silvermere Lake are in need of repair, according to the provincial government.
Last week, a meeting was held with Silvermere Lake residents and representatives of Pacific Gateway Properties – the company that owns the lake, the dams and several parcels of land in the surrounding area including the island.
The public was told the dams are “not currently compliant” with Provincial Dam Safety Regulations and have been classified as Emergency Level 1, meaning they require immediate repairs and reconstruction.
The crowd gathered and listened to Andrew Baker, an engineering consultant for Aplin Martin which is working on behalf of Pacific Gateway Properties.
“The salient issues is that the province has identified this dam as having some safety concerns and we are now in the midst of looking at how we address those to ensure the safety of the dam and the lake going forward,” said Baker after the meeting.
“Because it is owned by a private company, but in fact so many residents live by and use the lake, we thought we don’t want to do this alone. We have to do it together because Silvermere Lake is a beautiful asset. It’s a landmark when you drive into Mission,” he added.
Baker said as the owners of the lake, Pacific Gateway Properties wants to see it maintained, but there is some liability right now.
“The worse case scenario is we could have a breach and the water could flow out of the lake and we really don’t know what would happen because nobody’s ever analyzed it.”
If people were fishing on the lake or riding floating devices, they could be in danger if it breached.
“That’s why we are watching it daily, monitoring it.”
The meeting was called to bring together the approximately 45 home owners who live along the man-made lake to discuss ideas and options.
A committee of local area residents, and experts is being formed to create a strategy for immediate repair plans.
Baker said both short-term and long-term repairs need to be worked out.
The total extent of the dam damage is still a mystery.
“We don’t really know because we can’t see what it is. All we really know is the water’s leaking underneath the structure instead of going over top of the structure like it’s designed.”
He compared it to a bath tub where instead of going down the drain, the water is pouring out of a hole in the corner.
“We have to figure out where its going.”
The initial cost for a temporary repair will likely be manageable, said Baker, probably less than $1 million, but until they find the problem, that’s just a guess.
Long-term repairs could be significantly more expensive.
The key, said Baker is to act quickly.
“The risk is the province could come in and say ‘you are not doing anything. You are not replying to us. You’re completely absent’ … they could come in themselves and take apart the dam.”
That would drain the lake and Baker said his client and residents in the area, don’t want to see that happen.