Are Quebec’s dams safe?

Are Quebec’s dams safe?

Quebec City (Quebec) 5 June 2015 – Quebec’s commissioner for durable long term development, Jean Cinq-Mars is appalled at the lack of action that the government is taking on the maintenance and inspections of the province’s dams.

Quebec has approximately 6,000 dams which either store or control water flow both on lakes, or rivers, and for 12 years now, the government has done nothing to verify if there is not some repairs to be made on some of those structures.

Of the 6,000 dams, 758 are under government control, while the rest are privately owned or operated by individuals or municipalities. The government has strict bylaws and rules concerning the maintaining of dams and those rules apply to everyone, private or public.

M. Cinq-Mars brought up the 12 year figure because it has been that long since the attorney general drew up a consultation paper requesting the government start inspecting the province’s dams on a regular basis. Since then nothing has been done by whichever party was in power.

The province’s minister of environment, David Heurtel has taken M. Cinq-Mars’ remarks very seriously and has instigated a team to immediately start checking on those dams. It is a matter of public safety and the situation can no longer be neglected. M. Heurtel blames the lack of action on bureaucracy and poor management by several different ministries. He has set up a new committee to oversee the inspection process and has named Daniel Rivard, an ex-Hydro-Quebec dam expert, to take control of the situation.

He also wanted to inform the public that Quebec’s dams show no signs of weakening and that all is secure for the time being, reiterating that even though the government is in an austerity mode, public safety is on a priority list, and structures such as dams fall under those priorities.

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