Springbank Dam was constructed at the current site along the Upper Thames River within the City of London in 1929 to create a reservoir for recreational use. It held back water from Spring until Fall and did not serve any flood control or hydroelectric purpose. While the dam was operational independent studies were completed showing that the water had elevated levels of phosphorus and e-coli nearly 55 times highly than provincially acceptable levels.
The water contained in the reservoir was deemed not safe for direct human recreation and threatens many at risk and endangered species of fish, amphibians, plants and wildlife. After the dam was damaged a full rebuild was completed in 2008 and on the first test one of the doors was damaged. Since then it has remained open allowing the Thames; a designated Canadian Heritage River, to run free from it's headwaters to Lake St. Clair. The water quality has improved dramatically and the riparian shoreline has recovered to it's natural state not seen in over 80 years.
The intent of this petition is to encourage our elected Mayor and Councillors to demonstrate that they truly care about the environment, respect their voters concerns and are accountable for spending by decommissioning Springbank Dam.
WHEREAS the Thames River is recognized as the most important natural heritage feature in the City of London; and
WHEREAS the Thames River plays an important role in contributing to the diversity of aquatic species (approximately 94 fish species recorded) as a southern Ontario watershed flowing into Lake St. Clair; and
WHEREAS the Thames River produces fish for Lake St. Clair, Lake Huron and Lake Erie; and
WHEREAS Lake Huron and Lake Erie are two of the most frequently fished waters in Ontario; and
WHEREAS nearly 1.74 million anglers actively participate in recreational fishing in Ontario; and
WHEREAS anglers spend nearly 2.5 billion dollars annually on consumables and investment goods attributable to recreational fishing in Ontario; and
WHEREAS “Conserving Ontario’s biodiversity is key to achieving a healthy environment, strong communities and a thriving economy” (Ontario Biodiversity Strategy); and
WHEREAS the Springbank dam causes significant adverse impacts to the ecology of the Thames River; and
WHEREAS the Springbank dam negatively impacts the free movement and passage of fish and other aquatic species; and
WHEREAS evidence shows that the Springbank dam is lowering fish attraction and passage efficiency, potentially impacting fish biomass and biodiversity in the Thames River; and
WHEREAS the Springbank dam disrupts the natural flow of water and sediment, altering the physical and chemical parameters of the river and potentially degrading water quality; and
WHEREAS scientific studies have documented that the Springbank dam reservoir does not meet the provincial water quality objectives for phosphorus and E. coli; and
WHEREAS poor water quality and high E. coli levels pose a significant risk to local residents and the aquatic species within the system; and
WHEREAS the Springbank dam serves no benefit to the local residents for flood control; and
WHEREAS the ecological, recreational and socio-economic benefits associated with the removal of the Springbank dam, far outweigh the rationale for its rehabilitation or on-going maintenance; and
WHEREAS a US study of 14 dam removals in Wisconsin, showed that the estimated cost of repairing was three times (300%) higher than the cost of removal (Born et al. 1998); and
WHEREAS the City of London proposes to repair the failed dam, thereby continuing a process which has resulted in the harmful alteration of fish migration, and reportedly cost local taxpayers over $6.8 million; and
WHEREAS Section 35 of the Fisheries Act states, “No person shall carry on any work or understanding that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.”
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we the undersigned petition the City of London to:
1. Take immediate action to remove the Springbank dam, based on its ineffectiveness, excessive cost and negative environmental effects. Removing the dam is a financially viable alternative to maintenance and repair.
2. Facilitate fish migration and spawning by removing the dam. Improving fish production increases angling activity, and in turn, strengthens the local economy through tourism and recreational fishing opportunities.
3. Restore the natural hydrology of this designated Canadian Heritage River to reestablish habitats, migration paths and improve water quality. “Allowing the water to flow freely without impoundment provides an opportunity for the system to purge toxins, excess nutrients and bacteria instead of concentrating them and storing them.” (Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020).
4. Remove the Springbank dam to reduce the risk of loss to biodiversity and protect the restored habitat of one of the most species rich rivers in Ontario. The Thames River supports over 90 species of fish and many aquatic species listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife of Canada 2006) including 12 fish, 6 reptiles and 7 mussel species. “Reducing threats now will be more effective and less expensive than trying to recover what we have lost.” (Ontario Biodiversity Strategy)
The Decomission Springbank Dam petition to London City Council was written by The Thames River Anglers Association and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.