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Flooded region residents want an independent investigation of failed dams

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A group representing Midland and Gladwin County residents wants an independent review of thefailures of two damslast month that created historic flooding.

On May 19, after days of heavy rain, Edenville Dam broke, sending torrents of water downstream. The water overwhelmed the Sanford Dam. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes in Midland County.

Local and state officials are still calculating the damage done in several counties.  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer orderedstate regulators to conduct a forensic investigation of the dam failures.   Federal regulators ordered a similar review by Boyce Hydro, the company that owns the two dams that failed and two other dams.

But the Four Lakes Task Force wants a third-party investigation.  

The task force was in the process of buying the dams before the disaster. The group’s president wants an independent investigation based on “facts.” 

“It’s a best practice if there’s parties involved to pull themselves away and let it be truly independent,” says Dave Kepler, the president of the Four Lakes Task Force.

The Four Lakes Task Force would like to see the Association of State Dam Safety Officials handle the investigation. 

Civil lawsuits have been filed against both Boyce Hydro and state agencies responsible for regulating dams in Michigan.

Leisl Clark is Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Clark says there will be new information coming in the next few days about the structure of the EGLE’s dam investigation. She promises there will be a “Third-Party component.”

“There needs to be an outside look at everything that happens,” says Clark.

Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again expressed confidence that state regulators can conduct a thorough investigation.

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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.
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