Is our Golf Course Slipping into the Lake?

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Yesterday morning I listened to a CBC radio interview with our local fire chief John Banta. The topic was our golf course, one of the main recreational and scenic attractions of Fauquier. The ground facing the lake has been undergoing major shifts making some people believe that the entire golf course with that wonderful little clubhouse included will eventually slip into the lake. The gist of the conversation revealed that there are two opposite viewpoints on the nature of the upheaval of the grounds facing the lake to the north. While the CBC interviewer spoke of impending disaster, John pointed out that only two of the nine holes have been affected and that the club house in his opinion is quite safe in its present location.

Having also heard so many different opinions from friends and neighbors, I decided to investigate the problem area myself and attempted to provide evidence for or against CBC’s claim that before long the golf course, club house and all will eventually slip into the lake.

Here is what I discovered at the site and I use the pictures to support the evidence:

  1. Near the warning ribbon directly facing the lake there is an almost vertical drop-off of several meters.
  2. Facing northwest I noticed another drop-off not quite as frightening, but still dangerous enough to cause serious injury, should someone step over the edge. Again the angle with ground above and the ground below was nearly 90°.
  3. Making a big loop around the area I worked my way up to take a closer look from below. It was very clear that the ground has been in motion everywhere I looked.
  4. The entire surface area, however, no matter how big or small, revealed the same picture, not what one would expect a movement toward the lake, but rather sinking ground with a distinct vertical downward trend.

Thinking about a probable cause for this unusual phenomenon, I thought that there is only one plausible explanation. Not more than three weeks before this disturbing event we experienced a heavy snowfall followed by a two-week period of steady rain and unseasonably warm temperatures. The ground became saturated. The drainage ditches in town filled up to maximum capacity. But what was worse was the underground seepage that took place on a grand scale. The fine sand that is sandwiched between layers of clay was washed away leaving large underground cavities behind, over which the surface areas of the golf course near the lake collapsed. Of course, it did not help any that the lake is presently at its lowest level in years creating a huge imbalance of the entire shoreline.

I can only express my sincere hope that BC Hydro being in control of the lake level will generously chip in with sufficient funds to make the necessary repair possible. I felt a little bit more cheerful when at the end of my exploration of the damage I noticed two golfers testing their skills on the remaining 7 intact holes. Wow! What a sight in February!

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