Edenville Dam Failure

EGLE assumed regulatory authority for the 96-year-old Edenville Dam in late 2018 after its license to generate hydropower was revoked by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. EGLE was in the process of reviewing federal records and conducted an initial inspection in October of 2018, finding that it was in fair structural condition. That preliminary assessment was not intended to determine if the dam met state safety standards. EGLE had concerns that the dam might not have enough spillway capacity – which allows water to flow out of the Wixom Lake impoundment –to meet state requirements, and therefore ordered a comprehensive structural assessment of the dam to help determine if it met state spillway, and other, safety requirements. That study had not been received by EGLE prior to the dam failure.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered EGLE to lead an investigation into the causes of the Edenville failure, and to recommend ways that policies, practices, budgeting and other reforms might enhance dam safety in Michigan. EGLE has already launched the investigation, and looks forward to exploring ways Michiganders can be better protected from such risks.

Michigan has 2,523 dams. Of those, 1,153 are regulated by either state (1,061 state) or federal (92) agencies. Some 1,370 smaller dams are not regulated. Of regulated dams, 803 are privately owned and 350 are publicly owned.

Lack of investment in dam infrastructure is not uncommon in Michigan dams, which have suffered from deferred maintenance over the course of decades. That, combined with the historic rainfall and flooding, were factors in the Edenville Dam failure.

  View the Michigan Regulated Dams Interactive MapMichigan Regulated Dams Statistics

EGLE's Chronology of Boyce Hydro

Edenville Dam Failure FAQs - Revised 5/29

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Documents Related to the Edenville Dam Failure

Date Document
5/1/2020 State's lawsuit against Boyce Hydro Power
10/8/2018 Inspection report, October 2018

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited Midland on May 27, 2020 to survey the damage from the flooding and receive an update from the team on the ground. The Governor has directed EGLE to investigate what caused the Edenville and Sanford dams to fail. See below for photos from the governor's visit.

Governor Whitmer with a worker on an overpass looking down at flood damageGovernor Whitmer standing and listening to workers during a visit to the Midland flood area