Saturday, September 25, 2021
ADVT 
National

B.C. ineffective overseeing dam safety: auditor

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 14 Sep, 2021 04:02 PM
  • B.C. ineffective overseeing dam safety: auditor

The British Columbia government has not effectively overseen the safety of the 1,900 dams it regulates, says the auditor general.

Michael Pickup said the Ministry of Forests, Land, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has not adequately verified or enforced dam owners' compliance with key safety requirements.

"So I'm trying to balance making sure that it's clear to people that we're not suggesting, you know, dams are unsafe," Pickup told a news conference Tuesday.

"But at the same time we are suggesting, and indicating, that by concluding they're not effectively running their program and doing what they said they would do, the risk has increased related to dam safety and public safety."

The report said officers with the ministry found that new landowners sometimes didn’t know their property had a dam on it for a year or more after becoming the owners when they received a bill for the water licence. Dams are not on the land title, and smaller dams can look like a natural body of water, it added.

While the owners of the dams are responsible for their safety, the ministry has a mandate to see that they comply with provincial regulations, it said.

"Although the ministry makes information available to all dam owners and does outreach to owners of higher-consequence dams, officers often find that dam owners — especially owners of low-consequence dams — don’t fully understand their regulatory responsibilities," said the report released Tuesday.

"A reason for this lack of understanding is that safety training is voluntary. Anyone can own a dam if they buy land with a dam on it."

The audit period was from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020, and didn't include dams that are being built, like Site C, a megaproject crossing the Peace River just west of Fort St. John.

Dams that hold back water offer significant benefits, such as electricity, irrigation, flood control, wildlife habitat and recreation, said the report. But dams must be properly maintained to minimize their risk of failing, it added.

Failures can be caused by a single catastrophic event, such as an earthquake, or, more often, by a series of factors or events, it said.

For about 1,000 of the 1,900 dams, it said a failure could kill people and damage the environment and property. The rest of the dams could end up damaging the owner's property, the report said.

Since the early 1900s, there have been two recorded fatalities in B.C. from structural dam failures, one in 1912 and the other in 1948, it noted.

The auditor general also found that the ministry did not have a complete inventory of dams, and the information on the ones it regulates was not always complete or accurate because the database was introduced in 2010 and has expanded to include more material.

But officers with the ministry have not prioritized updating the database records as part of their already heavy workloads, the report said. They also feel the database doesn’t meet their workflow needs and is inefficient to use, it said.

Four out of 10 officers said there was a backlog in the average time between reports being submitted and the ministry accepting them, which was about 20 months, although some had taken eight years.

"The backlog was a result of officer workload," it said.

"The officers told us their schedules rarely allowed for the uninterrupted stretch of time they needed to review these complex technical reports."

The auditor general made nine recommendations, including improving processes to verify compliance, all of which have been accepted by the ministry. Pickup said the response from the government did not include details in terms of actions and a timeline but it did agree with all the recommendations.

MORE National ARTICLES

677 COVID19 cases for Tuesday

677 COVID19 cases for Tuesday

Of the active cases, 288 individuals are in hospital and 140 are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.In the past 24 hours, one new death (Northern Health) has been reported, for an overall total of 1,866.

 

 

677 COVID19 cases for Tuesday

Vancouver protest leads to two people arrested

Vancouver protest leads to two people arrested

A man and a woman were arrested for mischief and intimidation by blocking or obstructing a highway. Both were released pending a future court date.

Vancouver protest leads to two people arrested

Warmer-than-normal fall expected this year

Warmer-than-normal fall expected this year

The network says in its fall forecast that much of Canada can expect some spells of warm temperatures in the next month or so, mixed in with the wide swings in weather the season typically brings.

Warmer-than-normal fall expected this year

Trudeau, O'Toole tied as campaign hits final bend

Trudeau, O'Toole tied as campaign hits final bend

The poll conducted by Leger in collaboration with The Canadian Press indicates the parties are tied with the support of 32 per cent of decided voters, with the NDP in third place with 20 per cent.

 

 

Trudeau, O'Toole tied as campaign hits final bend

Tens of thousands have 'long COVID-19' symptoms

Tens of thousands have 'long COVID-19' symptoms

In a brief released today, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says the symptoms of so-called long COVID can last from weeks to months after contracting the virus.

 

 

Tens of thousands have 'long COVID-19' symptoms

Suspect allegedly involved in two shootings in Richmond in-custody

Suspect allegedly involved in two shootings in Richmond in-custody

There are no concerns for public safety at this time. The motive for these shootings and whether there is a nexus to the Lowermainland gang conflict are still under investigation.

Suspect allegedly involved in two shootings in Richmond in-custody

PrevNext