British Columbia

Work remains after B.C. dam failure

There were five dam incidents in B.C. last year, in addition to the disastrous breach of the Testalinden dam that sent a wall of mud down on several homes and orchards near Oliver, B.C.

B.C. releases first annual dam safety audit report

Several houses were destroyed by a landslide near Oliver, B.C., in June 2010. Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press

There were five dam incidents in B.C. last year, in addition to the disastrous breach of the Testalinden dam that sent a wall of mud down on several homes and orchards near Oliver, B.C.

The B.C. government released its first annual dam safety report today, one of the recommendation to come out of the failure of the Testalinden dam last June.

Dam safety officers responded to five incidents between April and March, ranging from a beaver dam blocking the spillway of the Grafton Lake dam on Bowen Island to structural problems at BC Hydro's John Hart dam near Campbell River.

The report says the number of dam owners who complied with reporting requirements increased to 93 per cent, up from 87 per cent the year before, but those responses are inconsistent and difficult to interpret, and it recommends more concise questioning in the future.

There were 99 dam safety audits last year — which falls short of the target of 113 because staff were focused on the Rapid Dam Assessment program put in place after the Testalinden mudslide.

Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson said although just 10 per cent of B.C.'s dams have been audited, safety officers are now getting started on the in-depth audits.

"The focus through the Rapid Dam Assessment program visited close to 1,200 dams in that three-and-a-half month period," he said/

"That was given the highest priority of staff and so staff were not able to meet all the lower-priority targets of completing all the dam audits."

There are approximately 1,900 dams in B.C., about 1,200 of them considered low risk.

Last year's Rapid Dam Assessments showed four with problems that needed to be fixed immediately, and Thomson said those repairs have been completed.

With files from The Canadian Press

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