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Dam safety: a growing concern at Conestogo

A dam safety evaluation report, prepared by Acres International of Ontario, Canada, has found that Conestogo dam may fail due to overtopping during floods. According to Acres’ study, three of the spillway gates on the 40-year-old earthfill dam, which is located on a tributary of the Grand river, are no longer fully operational. The engineering report said the gates, unless fixed, will eventually become stuck. Should this happen when the reservoir is full, at the time of a heavy or freak storm, overtopping of the dam could occur.

The Conestogo dam, located upstream of the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo in southern Ontario, was built in the late 1950s to provide flood protection and ensure a reliable supply of drinking water to several downstream communities. The Grand River Conservation Authority, which operates the dam, has asked the Provincial Government of Ontario to provide the estimated C$1.2M (US$1.9M) necessary for the refurbishment.

According to reports about a quarter of the estimated 2200 dams in Ontario are more than 50 years old and urgently need refurbishment and repairs.