06/28/2012 06:37 EDT | Updated 08/28/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. Threatens To Decommission Dangerous Dam

The B.C. government says it will decommission a dangerous dam and drain its man-made lake unless a small city near the U.S. border takes responsibility for it.

The Ministry of Forests says Providence Dam, outside Greenwood, B.C., "would cause substantial economic and environmental damage and, potentially, loss of life in the event of a failure."

In a review of all B.C. dams in 2010, after the Testalinden dam near Oliver collapsed causing major damage, the Providence Dam was deemed one of the most dangerous in the province.

"Providence Dam does not currently meet provincial dam safety regulations or Canadian Dam Association standards," the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said in a written statement.

"A dam safety review of Providence Dam, stemming from the deputy solicitor general’s report that followed the 2010 Testalinden Dam failure, identified a number of management concerns."

Residents rally to save Marshall Lake

The dam was originally built by a mining company that pulled out of the area decades ago and created a reservoir known as Marshall Lake.

A group of concerned residents have rallied together to preserve Marshall Lake, one of the few freshwater lakes in B.C.'s Boundary region, says Christopher Stevenson, who is leading the Marshall Lake Stewardship Group.

"This area doesn't have many lakes. We have Jewel Lake and we have Marhsall Lake. Jewel Lake, they took the dam out last year without consultation. If they take the dam out it will go to from 6.4 hectares to 2, and it will return to a swamp," said Stevenson.

"I think it is important for the area. As a water storage reservoir it's important, for forest firefighting it's important for recreation it's important."

The province told the City of Greenwood it would provide $50,000 towards fixing the aging infrastructure, or help officials tear it down, and has until July 13 to decide.

Greenwood is in B.C.'s southern Interior, about 100 kilometres southeast of Kelowna.