Letters to the Editor

Burst dams would be like a 10-tonne bomb

To the Editor,

Re: City overstates flood danger, Letters, Jan. 16.

Let me try to clarify the Colliery dams issue.

The two Colliery dams hold back 220,000 cubic metres of water. That water weighs 220,000 metric tonnes and it is about 50 metres higher than the Harewood community. That gives it what physicists call ‘potential energy’ in the same way that a mainspring gives energy to a clock. If that energy were released, the water would move and the potential energy would become kinetic energy. The kinetic energy of a moving object is 0.5mv2. The moving water would pick up anything in its way and move it downstream, adding to the destructive energy. It would be like a 10-tonne bomb going off in the middle of Harewood.

It doesn’t matter how much money is spent reinforcing the Colliery dams, the energy of the water they hold back is the same. Regardless of how nice it is to walk through the park, the water held back by the dams is still dangerous and it should not be there. That is why the B.C. Dam Safety Branch has declared them the most hazardous structures in the province, and has ordered them to be removed.

The Colliery Dams Park Preservation Society is the most effective community group in the recent history of Nanaimo. That doesn’t mean it is right. Jeff Solomon is determined that Nanaimo spends money it doesn’t have on two dams that should not be there.

There is no conspiracy to rob the Harewood community of its park. We can hire as many engineers as you like, but the problem will still be there. The dams need to go.

Charles Thirkill

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