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State to begin assessment of partially-collapsed Edenville dam

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The state will spearhead an engineering study to assess the condition of the remainder of a Midland County dam that failed in May.

The Edenville dam partially collapsed after heavy rains, along with the Sanford dam, leading to major flooding in and around Midland. But part of the dam facing the Tobacco River is still intact. The question is how stable and secure it is.

Nick Assendelft, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, said that state employees and contractors should be onsite at the dam starting this week.

“What we’re trying to get our arms around is exactly how extensive that damage is, and what needs to be done to protect transportation, natural resources, the residents, [and] the lake area to avoid erosion,” Assendelft said.

“Without that information, we’re not sure what our next steps are going forward, so we need that important, critical information.”

A federal judge had ordered the dam’s owner, Boyce Hydro LLC, to do the engineering study. Boyce did provide a report on the dam’s condition, but it was not comprehensive. The company recently filed for bankruptcy.

Assendelft said there’s no hard and fast timeline for completing the assessment, but they hope to get it done quickly. “Hopefully as soon as we make our determinations and come to conclusions, we can try to figure out what our path forward is,” he said.

Assendelft stresses that this assessment is different from an independent investigation into the cause of the dams’ collapse.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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