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Mid-Michigan dam rebuilding to start soon

The Tittabawassee River flooded the Sanford Dam last year. Construction will start later this month to repair the dam.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio/File Photo
Construction will start later this month to repair the Sanford Dam. The Tittabawassee River flooded last year.

Construction will soon begin on one of the Mid-Michigan dams breached by historic flooding last year.

The dam that used to hold back Sanford Lake has held back water since last May, when a flood washed away lakefront properties and overwhelmed the embankment. The lake drained, leaving behind a dry expanse of lake bottom dotted with scrub brush, tree saplings, and debris.

Tim Holsworth, the president of the Sanford Lake Association, said the flood gouged out a new path for the Tittabawassee River, taking it around the dam. The upcoming construction will route the river back through a new dam.

“What they’re basically doing is directing that [river] back to where it’s supposed to go,” Holsworth said.

The construction is not simple, he said.

“Ah, lots of people look at that and say, ‘Well, heck, I could fix that myself. That, you know, that’s a couple cement trucks, we’ll be all set. Plug the hole, we’re good to go!’” said Holsworth. “The reality is, the debris would clog the dam in two days.”

Holsworth said the Sanford dam reconstruction will begin later this month as part of a four-dam project to restore a network of lakes along the Tittabawassee and Tobacco Rivers. The entire process will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Brett joined Michigan Public in December 2021 as an editor.
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