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AG's motion: Edenville dam officials determined dam might fail a decade before it did

The May 19, 2020 flood inundated parts of Midland and Gladwin counties
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
The May 19, 2020 flood inundated parts of Midland and Gladwin counties

State prosecutors claim Edenville dam officials determined it might fail, a decade before it did, but did nothing.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office makes the accusation in a motion filed in a court this week.

The 2020 Edenville dam failure contributed to a massive flood that inundated parts of Gladwin and Midland counties. The flood caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. Some people who lost their homes are still trying to recover.

In the motion filed Thursday, the AG’s office says through the discovery process it has found officials with Boyce Hydro determined in 2010 the east embankment of the dam might fail if Wixom Lake rose too high.

“In 2010, Boyce Hydro held a meeting...[where Boyce Hydro manager Lee] Mueller “expressed concern” that the east embankment of the dam was “far too narrow and the aside slopes too steep,” such that it was “not particularly conducive to withstanding the hydrostatic pressures of an elevated pond in the extreme flood conditions.”

According to the AG’s office, Boyce Hydro could have fixed the defect, and even considered plans to address, but ultimately neglects to do so.

“We discovered an unconscionable disregard for safety and dam integrity,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Attorneys representing the former dam owner did not respond to a request for comment.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.