Update - May 20, 2020
We have now retained an engineering consultant to undertake a detailed inspection of the truss bridge and the dam. This work will include a structural assessment and a concrete assessment, and will happen over the next week. We expect to obtain the final report by the end of June 2020.
We have also received acknowledgement from the Province of Ontario that they have received our correspondence seeking clarification on the Dam ownership issue.
Update - May 5, 2020
We wish to remind residents that no long-term decisions around the future operation of the Pefferlaw Dam have been made. There have been structural issues identified with both the bridge that is used to install the stop-logs, and the dam structure itself.
We have committed to undertaking a detailed inspection to assess the structural issues in question. We are in the process of obtaining an estimate and proceeding with this work as soon as possible. We are hopeful that this will happen within the next few weeks.
In order to proceed with any discussions about the future operation, we also need to get confirmation regarding the ownership of the Pefferlaw dam. We are reaching out to the Province of Ontario to help us make this determination.
For those concerned about the ecosystem and the welfare of the local animals, rest assured they are not being harmed by this year’s changes. Animals are adapted to survive and have many natural areas to use as the area around Pefferlaw is very healthy and full of habitat. The exposed banks will green up very soon. You may see less ducks and turtles this year, but more deer and fox.
Read the Pefferlaw Dam Briefing Note provided to the Town of Georgina Council for the May 6, 2020 Council meeting.
What’s Happening in 2020?
As a result of concerns raised through our regular dam maintenance and inspection process, our staff hired an engineering consultant to undertake a thorough visual inspection of the Pefferlaw Dam. The consultant identified structural and safety concerns, which has led to closure of the bridge.
For the safety of visitors and staff, the bridge will be off-limits for the foreseeable future. The inspection also indicated that there are structural concerns with the dam that need to be further investigated and addressed to ensure dam safety.
You might not be aware that in past years stop-logs have been added to the dam in the spring and removed in the fall to restrict the flow of water. Due to the structural concerns and the fact that the use of the bridge is necessary to install the stop-logs, for the safety of our staff, they will not be installed this year.
Our staff are discussing the current concerns and future operation of the Pefferlaw Dam with our partners at the Town of Georgina and the Province of Ontario.
No decisions beyond 2020 operations have been made at this time.
Anticipated Changes to the Area
Without the stop-logs to hold back the water, the reservoir behind the dam will not be as high as usual, changing visitor and resident experiences this year.
As a favourite spot for its picturesque views, nostalgic memories and recreation opportunities, we recognize these changes may be difficult, so we’d like to let you know what changes you might expect to see this year:
- A shallower, meandering river will likely replace the reservoir making it likely unnavigable by kayak or canoe.
- The banks of the former reservoir may be bare for a short time, but likely within weeks, will fill in with natural streambank plants.
Especially during a year of unexpected changes, following are some potential benefits these changes may create:
- If you’re a nature lover, you’ll begin to see different plants and animals; ones that are better adapted to live in the area. Perhaps fewer nuisance Canada Geese and instead, more Swallows and Dragonflies. Healthy river systems teem with life.
- Faster flowing water is also healthier, more oxygen-rich and will benefit fish species downstream of the dam.
- And healthier river systems are more resilient – meaning they are better able to handle the challenges of climate change that is already upon us.
- As water will flow through the dam unrestricted by stop-logs, this area will be able to handle larger volumes of water from flashier storms. Climate change projections tell us to expect more of this. This additional capacity may actually protect your property from the risk of flooding.
- We do not anticipate private well levels to be affected by the changes at the Dam.
If you’d like to stay informed on this issue - sign up for our Pefferlaw Dam Mailing List. We’ll provide updates and articles of interest, as well as share answers to your questions.
And if you have questions specific to this issue, please reach out to us:
Kristen Yemm, Director, Corporate Communications and Engagement
k.yemm@LSRCA.on.ca 905-895-1281 ext. 315