If we want to look into the future and see what the power of nature has in store for us following the Mount Polley tailings dam failure, we need look no further than the experience of the small town of Aznalcóllar (Los Frailes) near Saville Spain.
In April of 1998, a similar dam failure occurred. But, in a report issued six years after the incident, it was noted that any waterways that may have been contaminated had restored themselves within a few short months and sixteen permanent water testing stations continue to show safe levels for drinking water.
To this day, monitoring of any soil contamination in the main area affected by the dam failure, which has been remediated, show that it remains low and the riverbed has been recolonized by fish and amphibians, which survive without any problems. By six years after the incident, in 2004, six different species of fish had laid eggs.
Over the short span of a few years, the ecosystem of Aznalcóllar has improved naturally. Fauna and flora quickly recolonized the area. And the natural dynamic of the river, particularly the flood plains, has fully recuperated and is now recognized as a “green corridor” and a tourist destination with trails for walking, biking and horse riding.
Six years from now, this is the future we can fully expect to see at Mount Polley owing to the amazing resilience and power of nature.
Jimmy Pelk, Langley