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This week’s mailbox: Water levels at Army Beach

Water levels too high at Army Beach

Water levels too high at Army Beach

We are presently seeing, never seen before water levels in the ditches and in the treed area’s behind Army Beach Drive.

This means that this water will freeze in place and not drain out naturally as it should. When this water freezes in place it also freezes the clay under the trees. In 2007, when the water was almost this high the frozen ground kept the snow melt and the next years rain on top of the ground. This causes a massive tree kill because the trees literally drown, this happened between the end of Army Beach Drive to the South McClintock road in 2008 because of the high water of 2007.

This year, the water is much higher in all of the ditches behind Army Beach from Taylor way to the South end of Army Beach Drive. Yukon Energy did install a ditch along Army Beach Drive and a pump to remove the water from this area, this is very much appreciated. Presently this pump is pumping none stop and doing nothing. The pipe that takes the water from Army Beach Drive through the south berm is below the water and the water just circulates back through the pipe. I have notified Yukon Energy and all I get is total silence.

YESAB is supposed to protect the Yukon. The water board is supposed to manage the water levels within safe limits. Will someone please do their jobs. All we are asking for is Yukon Energy to lower the Schwatka lake reservoir by spilling some water downstream.

Yukon Energy presently has all of the gates out of the Lewes Dam because they ordered new gates. They ordered new gates last year and they ordered them a half inch too big so they would not fit. Presently they have reordered new gates so this is not the problem.

Yukon Energy told us for the last 12 years that when these gates are open they have no control as the inflows to the lake system as Miles Canyon is a critical choke. This was relayed to us by Yukon Energy’s engineer at many public meetings. Last year, our minister for Yukon Energy told us that this was not true and that Yukon Energy just discovered that when the Schwatka Lake is lowered it draws the water quicker through Miles Canyon. Our minister stated that by lowering Schwatka Lake to the lower end of their one meter water license they lowered the high water in Marsh Lake by 18 inches in 2021.

This proves that the Lewes Dam does not control the all of the water levels in Marsh Lake, the Whitehorse dam is also a control of the Marsh Lake water levels also. These two dams must be controlled together to get proper water levels as per their water license. Again, please have Yukon Energy spill some water so that they are close to their water license levels.

This year is a strange year, we have never seen the lake continue to rise at this time of year. In normal years the lake has started to drop two to three weeks earlier than now. I know that climate change has taken a lot of people by surprise, but is it not time to finally recognize the truth and just deal with it. These high water events are the new normal.

G & D Pettifor

Better collaboration required at Army Beach

To all concerned;

I am writing to support the concerns the Pettifor’s have raised.

As longtime residents of Army Beach, our family has witnessed the steady erosion of our property both from the lakefront and damage from the rising water table levels on and around our properties. Traditional prediction models seem no longer relevant or reliable in our current environment. Once in 100-year and 200-year statistics have evolved into much more frequent occurrences.

It is recognized that much work has been done since the floods 2007 and 2021. The improved road levels and berms have had a positive effect. Combined with the sandbagging efforts and emergency measures implemented, there is no question a significant amount of money has been spent by the various levels of government in this area. In addition, an inspection of Army Beach today would reveal work that has been done by many of the homeowners in the magnitude of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We all agree that YESAB, Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall and Minister John Streicker have many ongoing significant issues to manage across the territory. On some level it falls to the residents of any community to raise their concerns, especially if there is a genuine threat being faced daily. It is only with this information and participation that we can ensure our properties are “on the list” and prioritized accordingly.

To be productive and effective however, the dialogue has to demonstrate results. Simple fixes like improving the pump at the berm and management of the drainage ditch along Army Beach Drive would do much in improving the relationship that exists between us and those charged with the care and protection of our properties. Grants or low interest loans to take preventative measures is another example.

The Lewes Dam is a larger problem and will require a more detailed investigation as soon as possible It is an indisputable fact that the dam acts as a weir and has had an ongoing impact on the southern lake system since its inception. During years of normal water levels there have been few negative consequences from this. The flood events of 2007, 2021 and the high water we are experiencing again this year have brought into focus the need to address this issue once and for all.

The loss of the local forest because of neglect and mismanagement would be catastrophic and irreversible. This would affect everyone, including the First Nations who have been on this land for generations. The risk of wildfires would increase exponentially with obvious results.

It is an unfortunate truth that the benefits of proactive actions and expenditures are not as visible and politically popular as ones that happen as a result of a news headline event. It is impressive indeed to catch a runaway herd as they charge down mainstreet, when simply closing the barn door in advance would have saved the day.

Often, the cost savings can never be accurately calculated, and with the results not fully appreciated for years. We need information, vision and also the strength to change the decisions of the past (Lewes Dam) when the current reality deems necessary (higher snowfall, warmer temperatures, glacial melts, etc.). I do believe however, that over time, this is a more responsible and cost-effective approach.

Lack of communication and engagement in any meaningful activity is always disappointing. The Pettifor’s frustration is obvious and while many stakeholders have not taken the time to voice their concerns, they are not alone. If there is any further support or input from me that would be of help, please let me know,


David Reid