News Local

Dam breach leaves lake like 'creamer' 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A photo of boaters on Quesnel Lake taken this month after the Mount Polley tailings spill.
(B.C. Government photo)

A photo of boaters on Quesnel Lake taken this month after the Mount Polley tailings spill. (B.C. Government photo)

A University of B.C. engineer who’s worked at Quesnel Lake for more than a decade says solid material from the Mount Polley spill has now left a thick murk from 35 metres below the water’s surface to the bottom of the lake’s west basin.

The west basin is about 100-metres deep. It’s also the site where material flows in from Hazeltine Creek, which leads upstream to Polley Lake near the site of the dam breach earlier this month.

Civil engineer Bernard Laval told 24 hours he expects that sediment to begin flowing down Quesnel River in the short term.

The river is attached to the lake’s west basin.

“Right now the wind is pushing the murky water towards the main body of the lake — and if the wind stops, it’s going to come back,” Laval said.

In the longer term, colder temperatures could turn the basin into a mixing bowl.

“Right now, it’s kind of like you put your creamer into your coffee and it all kind of goes to the bottom. When the fall comes, it’s like coming in with a stir stick and mixing it completely,” he said.

“The air gets cold... the surface water gets cold and it convects, it’s convection, cold water falling,” with warmer water at lower depths rising to the top to mix things “vertically.”

Laval has also been conducting tests to determine how thick the sediment is by shining a ray of light through the water to determine turbidity.

He said results from the tests could be expected in about two weeks.

 

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