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2012 Dam Management Grant Recipients

The projects listed below are the recipients of the DNR's Dam Management Grant Program. Recipients will use their funds to remove dams without an economic purpose or repair dams with an economic purpose that are an imminent public safety issue and are deemed in unsatisfactory condition or under order by the Department of Environmental Quality, Dam Safety Division.

Boardman Dam Removal - Phase II ($357,725)
Conservation Resources Alliance, Grand Traverse County

Boardman dam photo

The Boardman Dam has more than 40 feet of head and is rated as a high hazard dam by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Dam Safety Division.

The removal of the Boardman Dam represents the second phase of the largest dam removal effort in Michigan's history with the proposed removal of three dams and modifying a fourth. This project has extensive aquatic resource benefits in rehabilitation of fish passage and cold water fishery habitats in the Boardman River. Removal of the Boardman Dam will open up fish passage for more than 100 miles of river upstream. The design restores the river's hydrologic function and reflects extensive community input over a seven year time period. Further, the project serves to reduce long term costs, safety concerns at a restricted one lane bridge immediately downstream of the dam, and risks to downstream property associated with the aging structure.

Otsego Township Dam Repair ($725,000)
DNR Wildlife Division, Allegan County, Kalamazoo River

Otsego dam photo

The Otsego Township Dam was built in 1902 in order to generate hydroelectric power for the town of Otsego. Hydro generation ceased in 1965 because it was no longer economically viable. The DNR acquired ownership of the property, including the dam, in 1967. Previously the impoundment level was lowered and portions of the dam were removed that included spillway gates, catwalk and powerhouse. The dam today is approximately 700 feet long and consists of earthen embankment, concrete spillway, and the former hydroelectric generation section. The dam is five feet high and has an impoundment of 67 acres which extends approximately 1.75 miles upstream.

The Kalamazoo River from Morrow Dam near Comstock to its mouth near Saugatuck is designated as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Federal Superfund site because of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination that took place in the mid-to-late 1950s as a result of paper making facilities located along the river. The Otsego Township Dam is located within this reach. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Dam Safety Division has designated the Otsego Town Dam as a high hazard and the DNR is under an emergency order to address safety issues associated with the dam.

Contaminated sediment trapped behind the dam will be addressed through the Superfund (CERCLA) process led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however the dam is structurally unsound and in need of major repair. Funding from the Dam Management Program will allow the DNR to perform major repairs by replacing the structure pending remediation of the contamination in the former impoundment.

Lyons Dam Removal ($994,975)
Ionia Conservation District, Ionia County

Lyons dam photo
Lyons Dam is a 13-foot-high concrete covered rock filled structure that is owned by the Village of Lyons on the Grand River in Ionia County. The Lyons Dam is considered a high hazard dam and has been determined to be in poor structural shape by a licensed engineer. The Village of Lyons has sought funding for numerous years for repair or removal and has been unsuccessful in obtaining funds.

The Dam Management Program Grant funding will allow the Village of Lyons to remove the structure addressing structure deficiencies and ultimately will allow for rehabilitation of the site. Removal of the dam will reconnect 54 miles of river below and dam and 16 miles of the Grand River and its tributaries above the dam. Further removal will allow for passage of natural woody debris and sediment as well as for small boats, canoes and kayaks.

Shiawassee Town Dam Removal ($162,700)
Friends of the Shiawassee River, Shiawassee County

Shiawassee dam photo
Shiatown Dam is a 19-foot-high structure that consists of three earthen embankments, concrete spillway, and an abandoned powerhouse. A dam was built at this site in 1840 and replaced with the existing structure in 1904. The impoundment behind the Shiatown Dam has decreased in size over time from 123 acres to less than 30 acres due to modifications in the dam and filling of the impoundment with sediment.

The Michigan Land Bank is the manager of the dam because taxes were not paid and ownership reverted to the State of Michigan. Removal of the structure will address public safety issues, reduce associated drowning deaths, and eliminate taxpayer funding for repair. There have been at least seven drowning deaths at this site. Further removal of this dam will open more than 58 miles of river to over 70 fish species, restore many functions of the river to improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and provide for increased recreation.

Vassar Dam Removal ($40,300)
City of Vassar, Tuscola County

Vassar dam photo
Ownership of Vassar Dam by deed is unknown, however since the City of Vassar owns the land on both sides of they have assumed administrative rights through default or abandonment. The dam currently lies in a state of ruin. It is a timber crib structure with a concrete cap approximately 200 feet in length with a large center portion of the dam collapsed resulting in about a four foot drop.

Anecdotal information indicates the structure was built circa 1850s and was used for a sawmill operation. The City of Vassar says the dam no longer serves any economic purpose and removal will allow the city to address infrastructure needs and an unsightly public safety hazard. Further removal will allow the city to move forward with development of park land, public access, and the promotion of public stewardship of the Cass River.

Removal of the Vassar Dam will restore connectivity to 12 miles of the Cass River upstream until the next barrier at Caro. Additional work is proposed at Frankenmuth Dam in 2013, which is located downstream of Vassar Dam, that will allow for the main stem of the Cass River to be opened up for 41 miles.

Sunday Lake Dam Spillway ($69,300)
City of Wakefield, Gogebic County

SundayLake dam photo
The Sunday Lake Dam (a.k.a. Planter Creek Dam) is located at the outlet of Sunday Lake which drains into Planter Creek. Gates within the dam have been inoperable thereby not allowing the city to manage lake levels during the spring snowmelt period. Most recently in 2002 Wakefield experienced significant flooding as a result of record snowfall, followed by rain and warm temperatures. Combined conditions resulted in more than a million dollars in damages.

The City of Wakefield states that Sunday Lake is probably the main asset to the city and surrounding area. The lake provides significant economic, recreational and fishing opportunities to residents and visitors to the area and has a large campground on its shoreline that is filled to capacity most of the summer. Further the city hosts the National Stock and Modified Outboard Boat race competition which draws thousands of contestants and visitors to the area.