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State orders dam owner to make "critical" repair to part of Edenville dam

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan regulators are ordering the ownersof the Edenville damto make critically needed repairs to the structure.

The Edenville dam cracked on May 19, after days of heavy rain. Torrents of water cascaded through the breach, contributing to a 500-year flood event in parts of Midland and Gladwin counties.

Four months later, there’s still a gaping hole in the dam. And there’s still river water passing through the breach.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) this week issued an emergency orderto dam owner Boyce Hydro to perform repairs to the dam’s Tobacco River spillway.  

“The continued rerouting of the Tobacco River is delaying necessary safety measures and fixes that are important to stabilize the area affected by the Edenville Dam’s failure,” says Liesl Clark, director of EGLE. “We don’t want residents who live downstream to face another devastating flood.”

The Edenville Dam is still classified as a High Hazard Dam, which means that should there be another collapse it could result in severe impacts and even a loss of life downstream from the dam. 

State regulators also say the situation is making it difficult to make repairs to the destroyed M-30 causeway bridge.

The state is giving Boyce Hydro a month to start construction. Otherwise, the state will contract the work and send the bill to the dam’s owners.

Even before the dam failures, Boyce Hydro officials claimed they did not have the money to make upgrades mandated by federal and state regulators. The company has filed for bankruptcy protection.

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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