The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has created a web page to post updates, documents and information from EGLE related to the Midland area dam failures.
Of the four affected dams near the Midland emergency, the Secord Dam, Smallwood Dam and Sanford Dam, are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The fourth, the 96-year-old Edenville Dam, was under FERC regulation until late 2018 after its license to generate hydropower was revoked by FERC. At that point, it was transferred to EGLE’s regulatory authority.
EGLE was in the process of reviewing federal records and had conducted an initial inspection in October of 2018 finding that it was in fair structural condition. However, EGLE did have strong concerns that the dam did not have enough spillway capacity, which allows water to flow out of the Wixom Lake impoundment. to meet state requirements.
EGLE had expressed those concerns to the owners’ consultants, were continuing conversations about that deficiency and had taken enforcement action against the dam’s owner for drawing down water levels without permission, and for damage to natural resources as a result of those drawdowns. EGLE was pursuing additional enforcement action at the time of the breach.
Lack of investment in dam infrastructure is not uncommon in Michigan dams, which have suffered from deferred maintenance over the course of decades. That, combined with the historic rainfall and the flooding, were factors in the Edenville failure.
Images from WDIV-TV offer a glimpse into the shocking aftermath. See the video below.
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