Colwood council to decide future of Lookout Brook Dam

Lookout Dam

The future of the Lookout Brook Dam in Colwood will be decided next week.

Engineering consultants for the City of Colwood have determined that the 61-year-old dam is currently in need of replacement, after a 2017 condition assessment indicated the structure had begun to present safety concerns.

The Lookout Brook Dam was originally constructed back in 1958, and received several repairs to it's structure even before the City of Colwood was formed in 1985.

The City of Langford is located downstream, with the spillway for the dam found in a residential area. This makes the Lookout Brook Dam a 'Very High Consequence' dam -- as labelled by the Ministry of Environmental Protection & Sustainability -- due to the number of residents living downstream that could be affected by a failure.

One of the options for the aging dam is to construct a rockfill buttress, which is the placement of rockfill on the upstream and downstream slopes of the existing dam. It would help stabilize the structure, and protect it from damage from earthquakes.

Another option -- albeit far less-popular amongst city staff -- would be to completely remove the dam all together. Colwood mayor Rob Martin says this would result in the entire area being affected, including the areas natural beauty.

"Especially the people that live around Lookout Lake -- I think they would be devastated if the water was suddenly gone." said Martin. "A lot of people have looked at purchasing their homes there because of the natural assets that exist."

Both options have identical price tags of $1.3 million. However, if Colwood elects to upgrade the structure as opposed to removing it, the city would be eligible for federal grants. According to Mayor Martin, as much as $750,000 could be applied to the overall $1.3 million cost.

"There would be significant savings to the local taxpayer if we upgraded the dam rather than removing it."

When it comes to the motion itself -- Martin says time is of the essence. As noted, the existing dam is a high risk consequence structure, which could have major safety implications to residents downstream in Langford, and in the surrounding areas around Lookout Lake.

"The inspection has clarified to us that we need to either look at replacing it, or lowering the water levels." said the mayor of Colwood. "We can't do nothing... that's unfortunately one option we don't have."

The fate of Lookout Brook Dam will be determined at Colwood's Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday (Aug19).

(Story by Alex Rodgerson)

 

 

 

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