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Sep. 20, 2021 | Monday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Conservation authority working on Virgil dam problems

Dear editor:

This letter is in response to 13-year-old Morgan Mitchell's front-page opinion piece, "Four Mile Creek neglected by conservation authority," published on Aug. 19.

One of the objectives of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is to further the conservation and restoration of the natural environment and this is a responsibility that is taken very seriously.

Much like the residents living along Four Mile Creek, the authority is concerned with the continuous vandalizing of the dam boards on the Lower Virgil Dam, which has inevitably resulted in low water levels in the Lower Virgil Reservoir.

The Virgil dams were designed in 1966 with the sole purpose of creating a source of irrigation water for area fruit growers. Over the years, these irrigation reservoirs have developed their own aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems much to the enjoyment of the local residents.

Back in 1966, the guiding principle of the dam’s design was that the facility must be simple and would not need to be operated in any fashion. However, the conservation authority recognizes a design that was appropriate in the 1960s is not appropriate for today.

Over the past year, we have been in discussion with the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake on ways to better maintain and operate the Upper and Lower Virgil Dams, in an effort to continue to provide local farmers with access to irrigation water without damaging the local ecosystem.

The authority appreciates the passion that residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake have shown regarding their natural areas. It is a passion we share and the concerns of the community are always taken very seriously.

We have addressed the issue of the degraded dam boards several times, however constant vandalizing does not allow these short-term solutions to last as they should, while more permanent, long-term solutions are established.

With a temporary solution currently in place, we ask local residents and the community for their help in taking care of the area while the conservation authority and the municipality continue to discuss the future of Lower and Upper Virgil Dams.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,we have taken measures to protect staff and the public continuing to provide services. Our main office is open by appointment only, with limited staff, so please refer to our staff directory and reach out to anyone you wish to speak or meet with directly. Our conservation areas are open, but may have modified amenities and/or regulations.

Updates regarding NPCA operations and activities can be found at the Get Involved NPCA Portal, or on social media on our Facebook Page and our Twitter feed.

Chandra Sharma
Chief administrative officer

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority