Michigan Dam Safety Task Force updated on EGLE dam program, sets next meeting for Oct. 1

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2020
Nick Assendelft, Public Information Officer, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135

The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force held its inaugural meeting Tuesday with a presentation about the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Dam Safety Program and an outside expert program review that was requested after the failures of two dams in Mid-Michigan in May.

The 19-member Task Force also set its future public meeting dates, with the next meeting scheduled for Oct. 1. Meeting dates and information about how to attend will be posted on the Task Force’s web page, where the public can access information about the Task Force, meetings, presentations and how to offer comments about dam safety in Michigan.

Evan Pratt, water resources commissioner for Washtenaw County was elected by Task Force members to serve as the chair, Doug Jester, a partner in 5 Lakes Energy, was elected vice-chair, and John Broschak, vice president of generation operations and compression for Consumers Energy, was elected secretary.

“EGLE takes very seriously our mission to protect public health and the environment and this catastrophe underscores how critical that work is,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. “We are eager for the public discussion with diverse stakeholders about our dam safety program and the larger challenge to the state of the thousands of dams and how they are managed by public and private entities.”

EGLE Dam Safety Program inspector Dan DeVaun provided the Task Force with information about EGLE’s Dam Safety Program, its duties, budget and enforcement powers as well as an overview about the condition of Michigan dams. Dam Safety Program inspector Luke Trumble told the Task Force about an ongoing program review that is being conducted by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials’ (ASDSO) Dam Peer Review Committee. The review’s purpose is to provide professional guidance to EGLE to improve the performance and management of the Dam Safety Programs after evaluating its mission, objectives, policies and procedures.

The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force’s membership represents local governments, key dam safety stakeholders and state agencies. It was formed in the wake of the Edenville and Sanford Dam failures to provide recommendations on policy, budget, legislative and enforcement reforms to prevent future dam failures across the state. The ASDSO’s Dam Safety Program review will inform the Task Force’s findings, which are expected early next year.

The Task Force’s deliberations will complement three other in-depth internal and external reviews: an independent forensic investigation into the dam failures, an outside review of the state’s Dam Safety Program and an evaluation of the remaining portion of the Edenville Dam.

Last week, EGLE sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer its Preliminary Report on the Edenville Dam Failure, Response Efforts, and Program Reviews report summarizing the department’s actions during and following the failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams, and outlining the status of reviews of the state’s dam safety operations.

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