Habitat deteriorating in area around Elk Lake

Areas around the lake hit by flooding since new dam has been installed

I walked around Elk and Beaver Lake with my wife this morning, something which has been a regular habit of ours for many years. There clearly is a marked deterioration in the paths and the surroundings. The signs on beaches and inlets confirm that.

The lake has sadly become a toxic environment for humans, pets, wildlife and vegetation. There are fewer heron, kingfishers, coot and cormorant. The trails are at risk of being washed away, hundreds of recently fallen trees litter the waterside and woods, and even the standing trees are dying and in danger of toppling. The area is not only losing its appeal but is hazardous.

The root cause appears to be the fixed dam which was recently installed at the south end. This controls the lake level. There is a small underflow from it to the stream but not sufficient to replicate Mother Nature.

In the summer, the lake level drops and for months nothing overflows the dam. The surface material collects and the lake stagnates and putrefies. Algae blooms and weeds tend to profligate. The roots of the trees close to the water dry out.

In the winter months, the lake floods, and because the dam is too high, the area adjacent to the lake floods. In some areas the paths have become disintegrating causeways and increasingly uneven and stoned, and even the boat launch area at the north end is waterlogged. The higher lake level also prevents the surrounding watershed from draining properly and tree roots become waterlogged.

The solution appears to be relatively simple. The dam design needs to be changed. Typically a V-notch or sawtooth dam should have been installed. Alternatively it is common to see a second lower dam ahead of the existing one. This gives a more natural and regulated flow of water and ensures that any detritus and algae is removed from the surface.

The CRD needs to urgently consider redesigning this dam before the lake becomes an off limits area for walkers, boaters and wildlife.

Anthony Rose

 

Saanich