Dam Safety, Environmental, News, North America

Two dams fail in Michigan

Two dams have failed in Michigan, leading to the evacuation of many people in Midland County.

Edenville Dam is on the border of Midland and Gladwin counties, on the Tittabawassee River. Its failure led to the reported failure of Sanford Lake Dam downstream. The two failures forced evacuations in Midland County, and the governor has declared a state of emergency.

The Detroit Free Press says the river hit a historic high as of Wednesday morning, rising above its 1986 record. Major flood stage is 28 feet and the river reached 34.6 feet. The National Weather Service forecasted it would reach 38 feet by the end of the day.

The Detroit News reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revoked Boyce Hydro LLC’s license for power generation at Edenville Dam in September 2018, citing “numerous violations and longstanding concerns that the Edenville Dam could not withstand a significant flood.” FERC is reported to have notified the dam owner in 1999 that spillway capacity needed to increase. The dam was built in 1925 and impounds Wixom Lake. The owner of the high-hazard dam since 2004 is Boyce Hydro.

Boyce Hydro also owns Sanford Lake Dam, which was built in 1924. The dam impounds water for a 3.3-MW hydro powerhouse.

In December 2019, FERC issued a preliminary permit to Four Lakes Task Force to study the feasibility of the 6-MW Edenville Dam Hydroelectric Project at Edenville Dam.