Special to The Lake Report
I am 13 years old, and I have lived on the Virgil Lower Reservoir section of Four Mile Creek for the majority of my life.
I spend lots of my time fishing, kayaking and exploring the beautiful ecosystem that is our two-kilometre stretch of Four Mile Creek with my friends and family.
In recent months, I have been very concerned for the health of this ecosystem, as the Lower Reservoir Dam, which is maintained by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, has been failing to properly control the water level in this section of the creek.
The system for controlling the water flow over the dam is, in a word, crude.
There are just a few rotting 2×4 boards held to metal rods by the force of the water. That means when just one of these boards is removed, (e.g. by someone deliberately removing it or by the force of the water sweeping one of the rotted boards over the dam) so much water will flow over the dam that the water level in the creek will drop ridiculously.
This section of Four Mile Creek is man-made, having been flooded years ago to provide irrigation for the surrounding farmland, and therefore is not very deep to begin with – only about four feet at the deepest.
So, when the level drops, there is very little water left, and the shallow areas actually completely dry up. Although this section of the creek is man-made, it has become a spectacular ecosystem over the years.
Our amazing Lower Reservoir ecosystem supports a multitude of fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and the forests around the creek support their own creatures.
When a part of the creek gets too shallow or dries up, many fish and turtles are trapped and unable to get out of the baking sun, where they die. There have been so many instances of the creek draining this year that I have spotted noticeably fewer of these species.
When these animals die, it also impacts the predatory species that depend on them for food, and many of the herons have to leave the creek to find better areas to hunt.
I believe that the conservation authority needs to quickly take action and invest in a better water control system for the dam, or at the very least put up security cameras both to deter and hold accountable the people that have been deliberately removing boards.
The creek is now experiencing its worst water level drop this year. More and more animals are dying every day, and the conservation authority is in no hurry to fix the dam.
Every time this happens, it is an incredibly simple fix, yet it takes quite a while for the board to be replaced by the conservation authority.
Investing in ways to stop this issue would be an investment to the future of this beautiful ecosystem and we need to work as hard as possible to preserve these precious wild places.
Morgan Mitchell lives in Virgil.