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New Fix for an Old Dam

New Solution Proposed for the Water Levels Problem

[Continue to enjoy our 2022 April Fools Joke here. Past April 1st postings are available on the April Fools Archive page (click here). If you'd like to consider becoming a member, visit our Membership page (click here).]
Colpitt Lake dam proposal concept
Williams Lake Dam
The Williams Lake dam was built with concrete sandbags

After many years of wondering when, and how, the crumbling dam on Williams Lake would be fixed, a new solution to the problem has been proposed. Hydrologists at Lakeside Marine And Oceanographic (LMAO) have completed a detailed study of the lake, and the land that underlays it, including the surrounding watershed. Their full report has more than a few surprises.

A state of the art damwould be constructed at the Colpitt outflow

First it was determined that it will not be possible to rebuild the dam in its current location. The opening into Lawsons Creek, which flows out of the lake, is too wide and filled with loose boulders. There is nothing to anchor the sides of a new state-of-the-art dam. Plus the land surrounding the dam falls off sharply, offering no way to stop water from passing around the edges of the dam.

As is already known, water continues to flow out of the lake even when the water level is so low that the dam is fully exposed, right down to the bedrock. “Damming the flow at this spot will simply not work” says chief hydrologist Daniel Techevoda. “If you have ever had water problems in your house, you know that water will find a way.”

Dam Warning Buoy
‘Glory Hole’ spillway is especially dangerous

Now for the good news. In surveying the surrounding watershed, technologists eyes were drawn to the western end of Colpitt Lake. Anyone who has hiked the region will recall that this end of the lake has solid granite rock slabs on both sides. The hydrology report names this spot, where Colpitt lake drains into a stream that feeds Williams Lake, as the best spot for a dam.

What does this mean for water levels in Williams Lake? By raising the level of Colpitt Lake by 3 meters, a dam will help store enough water to keep Williams Lake replenished through the long dry spells that are common in summer. In short, Colpitt would become a reservoir. A sluice gate will be opened at select times to release water into the stream, and so keep Williams Lake from falling to drastic lows.

What changes can people expect to the area surrounding Colpitt Lake? First of all, the wetlands to the north of the lake will be flooded. Concern has been expressed by Ducks Canada that this will disrupt nesting patterns for waterfowl, but hydrologists explain that, if anything, the wetlands will be more extensive. In fact many existing trails will become marshy and unusable.

Some trails will be flooded as existing wetlands will expand

Recreational activities in Colpitt Lake would have to be restricted, especially at the dam end, where a weir will prevent people from approaching the dam. Swimming will not be allowed, as currents could develop when the sluice gate is open and draining water. In addition a “glory hole” drain will be required to prevent Colpitt water levels getting too high – and these pose a real hazard for swimmers. “Only a fool would cross the buoy line to get close to one when it’s flowing strongly” said LMAO’s Techevoda, “but it’s not unknown for animals to get caught”.

Construction should not take more than two years

An access road will be built, involving an extension of Drysdale Road. Naturally, the network of hiking trails around Colpitt Lake will be impacted, as roads will be needed to facilitate servicing and maintenance of the dam, spillway and power lines going forward. Regular vehicular traffic though will be discouraged.

It is not known what effect road and construction noise will have on wildlife in the area, especially nesting birds. “Having proved that the Nighthawk and Chuck Wills Widow are both breeding in this area, the last thing we want to do is drive these rare birds away” said local bird expert Preston Violet (who appeared visibly upset when interviewed).

Wild rides from Colpitt to Williams Lake?

On the plus side, local paddling outfit Adventure Kayak is looking at the site for potential white-water tubing or kayaking, when the spillway is open and the stream is fully flooded.

But lovers of Williams Lake can rest assured that an effective, if somewhat disruptive, solution to low water levels has been found. Once funding has been secured, construction could start as early as April 1st, 2023 – just in time for next year’s April Fools!

While we like to make fun of our dam and the Williams Lake water level issues, serious work is underway by the Williams Lake Conservation Company and the folks at the Williams Lake Dam Association to solve the problems. The ageing dam has been covered by local news media. As well, the lake’s watershed is under current threat from developments that affect water flow and quality.

For more information on how you can help support Williams Lake visit our Membership Page.

Top marks to those who spotted “LMAO” in the very first paragraph. See you next year!
For more foolishness, visit the world famous WLCC April Fools Archive!

New Fix for an Old Dam
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