100-year-old toxic monster in Mohawk Lake

BRANTFORD – Brantford is moving ahead with plans to dredge 100 years’ worth of toxic waste from the bottom of Mohawk Lake.

Plans to clean up the man-made lake that was as a turnaround point for barges during the canal era, have been before city fathers before and rejected.

The plan was turned down after scientific studies were done on the depth and level of toxic sediment at the bottom of the lake. The study expressed concern about the dangers that releasing the 100-year plumb of industrial toxicity could produce down river, including Six Nations water supply.

More recently, an article appeared in the University of Guelph Magazine, The Portico in its Winter of 2015 issue.

The article deals with a very similar problem that was facing the city of Hamilton during the preparations for the Red Hill Valley Expressway.

The question was, what to do about a former man-made water basin designed to capture sediment that was hampering shipping. It was known as the Windermere Basin. Throughout the years the sediment from industry and other sources clogged the basin with highly toxic sediment.

“The sediment was soft and contaminated with pollutants,” says the article. “Although the City of Hamilton first considered dredging out the basin, Hamilton eventually determined that it would be more sustainable and less expensive to leave the sediments in the basin and simply dredge the shipping lane as needed.”

This was, in essence, the same problem Brantford now faces in its plans to “rehabilitate” Mohawk Lake.

Hamilton employed the services of Cole Engineering Group in Markham to study and make recommendations on how to address the issue. University of Guelph Graduate Mark Bassingthwaite, B.Sc, and water resources engineer, was employed to complete an environmental assessment and determined that the toxins should not be moved. “Sediment should be capped and the basin should be enhanced into a wetland,” was the recommendation.”

“We were able to complete the project on time, and on budget,” said Bassingthwaite. “In place of a containment and very attractive basin of water, we have created a diverse wetland habitat for a variety of wildlife.”

The project won environmental awards and was referred to by CBC reporter Adam Carter as “a staggering achievement” and “technical marvel”.

When asked about the study that was done when he was Brantford’s mayor, now City Councillor David Neumann said he is familiar to the earlier study, but that there is newer technology now that would make the removal of the toxic plumb at the bottom of Mohawk Lake more safe and effective.

The former study showed a large toxic mass at the bottom of the lake which nature itself has encased in a jelly like capsule to isolate it from the fresh water. Mother Earth knows how to protect herself.

Related Posts