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 AznalcÃ³llar (Los Frailes) near Saville, Spain.
In April 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 16 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 re-colonized 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 AznalcÃ³llar has improved naturally. Fauna and flora quickly re-colonized the area. And the natural dynamic of the river, particularly the flood plains, has fully recuperated and is now recognized as a â€œgreen corridorâ€ 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