For the Townsman
City Public Works staff will begin slowly drawing down the water level at Idlewild Lake beginning on Wednesday. Staff will slowly bring the water level down from its current level. The process will be monitored closely to ensure the reduced water level does not negatively affect the existing aquatic life or send any excess sediment down Joseph Creek.
Once the initial draw down occurs, it will be followed by a second draw down toward the end of the summer, as it is expected the lake will partly refill due to the spring freshet. Staff will also begin putting up snow fencing around the perimeter of Idlewild Lake on Wednesday, which will remain in place until the entire project is completed. It is important that the public please stay out of the lake bed once the water has been drained.
The City is going to great lengths to minimize the stress and any harmful effects to aquatic life. A biologist has been hired to work with the City on this project and staff is working closely with the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), the provincial Dam Safety Branch and other local agencies on each step of the project to ensure that happens.
City Council made the decision in February to draw down the lake, after a review of the findings and recommendations of an engineering report on the safety of the dam at Idlewild Park.
The Dam Breach Inundation Study notes that in the event of a dam failure, the uncontrolled release of water from Idlewild Lake would follow Joseph Creek, the natural path through the City, and has the potential to flood approximately 21 per cent of the City, impacting up to 2100 residential properties and nearly 500 businesses with the potential for loss of life.
The lake is being lowered to protect the public, but the plan is to restore and enhance the lake and park along with the rehabilitation of the dam and spillway. Residents and users of Idlewild Lake and the park will be included in a discussion at a later date around what a rehabilitated Idlewild Lake and park should look like.