Residents in Likely are being given more time to help determine whether or not the Cedar dam above the town will be decommissioned in the fall of 2013.
“We’ve made an agreement with the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to do a stability study on the dam. The government is going to help us acquire funding to do that study and if it turns out the dam is stable, it sounds like we’ll be able to possibly continue the existing public private partnership on the maintenance on the dam,” Robin Hood, past president of Likely Xatsu’ll Community Forest told the Tribune.
The study has to be completed by Aug. 19, and if the dam is not stable he does not think anyone will want to to be liable for it.
“An assessment carried out last year for the ministry by a contractor said a failure in 2012 or 2013 was unlikely, but refused to speculate about the dam’s safety beyond that point,” the ministry’s communications manager Vivian Thomas said.
Hood said the five-hectare Nina Lake, above the dam, is a popular fishing spot for locals and tourists.
Children growing up in area would have caught their first fish there most likely, he said.
“It’s one of the few places where you can cast from the shore and catch fish. They’re not very big fish, but it’s used by a local destination fishing tour guide.”
There is no record of when the dam was built, however, it was built for mining. It’s at least 100 years old.
“There is a belt-driven 10-inch water pump in the Cedar Point Park that was found up there, but I’m not the mining expert,” Hood added.
Cariboo Regional Area F director Joan Sorley said she met with the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson about the dam in September during the Union of BC Municipalities conference.
“He did say he thought it was worth another look. And then we had another opportunity to follow up with him when he was in the region on Oct. 27.”
Sorley explained that after the dam failure in Oliver, the province decided it was going to decommission old dams and Cedar dam was on the list.
“The sportsman’s association, the seniors association, and community tourism companies in Likely were all very upset. The area is also moose and fish habitat and a small community association would be hard pressed to find an insurance company willing to give them liability insurance.”
The community is hopeful now after the opportunity to see if the dam is stable. “It’s Likely, they get things done,” Sorely said.
If the further study shows that the dam is a threat to public safety, the province will then apply for a decommissioning permit and modify the main wall of the dam and its spillway to restore natural water flows for the following spring snowmelt, Thomas said.