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EGLE to hire third inspector, task force to evaluate dam safety

Water fills the yards of homes in Midland following dam breach. (Source: WILX)
Water fills the yards of homes in Midland following dam breach. (Source: WILX)(WILX)
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced on Thursday the next steps to improve the safety of state-regulated dams in the state of Michigan.

EGLE is expected to hire a senior environmental engineer to act as a third inspector in its Dam Safety Program. This will be an important move in boosting the program under EGLE’s Water Resources Division.

The addition of the inspector role will aid in tracking more than 1,050 state-regulated dams.

EGLE has partnered with the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) to perform one of the two necessary independent reviews of the state’s Dam Safety Program.

The second review will be performed by the Michigan Dam Safety Task Force. They will review dam safety issues in Michigan and provide recommendations to help prevent future dam failures.

In June, EGLE announced a team of six independent experts who will perform an independent investigation of the contributing factors that led to the failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams in May. The team includes experts in the following areas: geotechnical engineering, hydraulics, dam safety and dam design.

Boyce Hydro owns both dams and is legally obligated to pay for the investigation. They have not come to an agreement with the investigative team on a contract to perform its work. Therefore, the independent team’s investigation could potentially take up to 18 months to complete.

Since the May flooding, the EGLE staff has developed greater plans to assess stream channel stability as well as to identify areas of potential erosion problems along with previous dam impoundments.

EGLE has communicated with all owners of Michigan dams that have a high or significant risk of dam failure to coordinate next steps in maintaining or updating infrastructure.

For updates on the investigation, click here.

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