Irving dam's role in floods still questioned
Charlotte County residents calling for an independent review
Some residents of Charlotte County, N.B., who believe the Irving-owned Lake Utopia dam contributed to the area's flooding disaster last December are calling on the province to conduct an independent review.
They're not satisfied with a study commissioned by the company that concluded the hydroelectric dam did not play a role in causing the floods.
Bruce Jackson said he was lucky when flood waters rose last December and came within inches of swelling into his cottage.
But more than 60 people on Lake Utopia weren't as fortunate, said Jackson.
"People that had six inches of water still had $50,000 and $60,000 of damage to their homes," said Jackson. "Every inch is significant to a property owner."
Jackson said the province needs to do a better job of monitoring area waterways.
"Our lakes, our rivers, they're a public resource and the public should have input into how they're controlled and it shouldn't solely come from the industry side," Jackson said.
Jackson and many others publicly wondered what role the Lake Utopia dam may have played in causing the floods last December.
J.D. Irving, the parent company of St. George Power, which owns the dam, commissioned a study recently that concluded the dam played no role in the floods. The company still maintains that's the case and said it's up to the province whether it wants to do a study of its own.
"The study was a voluntary effort on our part," said Mary Keith, spokeswoman for J.D. Irving. "We understand that there's a broader group that's also involved in looking at a number of other aspects related to the flood."
Jackson said it's the province's duty to do a study and that Irving has an inherent conflict of interest as owner of the dam. Its subsidiary St. George Power needs high water to generate power and expecting an unbiased review of their own role in the floods is unrealistic, he said.
"If you look at the gaps and how actions were taken — if you look at on Monday when we had four inches of rainfall down and only half of their flood release capability had been opened up," Jackson said.
Last March, more than 800 people signed a petition asking for a public enquiry into the dam's role in flood damages. The province turned down that request.