The Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario, Canada, has delayed the approval of a $4.2M construction project for the repair and rehabilitation of the Springbank dam on the Thames river, near London, Ontario.

The project, supposed to begin in October 2004, was put on hold until the Ministry is satisfied the dam does not prevent the ability of fish to move up and down the river.

By law, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans must approve the dam repair and redesign plans before construction can begin. The dam originally built in 1929 for recreational purposes was damaged during heavy flooding in 2000 and does not include a fish ladder.

The city of London, which owns the dam, and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority – the dam’s operator, have submitted the redesign plans to both government agencies for approval. However, the plans do not include a fish ladder or other device for fish passage.

Funding for the project was granted by the government of Canada and by the province of Ontario. The Thames river in Ontario is home to 15% of the endangered species in Canada and has been named a Canadian heritage river.

As early as last October, the Thames River Anglers Association and the London Canoe Club have voiced concern over the lack of a fishway in the redesign of the dam.