Edenville Dam Failure
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s initial report to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provides an update on the ongoing failure investigation of the Edenville Dam and the response actions of EGLE and other agencies following the May 19, 2020, failures of the Edenville and Sanford Dams in Midland and Gladwin Counties. The report is a discussion of the immediate steps taken to protect public health related to the dam structure itself, as well as the various lines of investigation and an update on additional activities.
- Preliminary Report on the Edenville Dam Failure, Response Efforts, and Program Reviews, August 31, 2020
ASDSO releases review of EGLE’s Dam Safety Program
Following the May 19, 2020 failures, EGLE asked the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) to perform a thorough evaluation of Michigan’s Dam Safety Program. ASDSO is a national nonprofit organization serving state dam safety programs and the broader dam safety community. Since 1989, the ASDSO has conducted more than 70 program reviews across the nation. The evaluation looked at the program's mission and goals, budget and staffing levels, organizational structure, and strength of existing State laws and procedures when compared to a model program. The final report, which identifies best practices that should be continued or adopted by the program and highlight deficiencies that need to be corrected, is now available.
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assumed regulatory authority for the 96-year-old Edenville Dam in late 2018 after its license to generate hydropower was revoked by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.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.
Additionally, EGLE was working with a local stakeholders group to facilitate their purchase of the dam from its owner, Boyce Hydro. That group, the Four Lakes Task Force, had aggressive plans to upgrade the dam and reacquire its federal hydropower generating license. That purchase was imminent when the failure occurred.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered EGLE to coordinate an independent 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 initiated the search for an independent investigator, and looks forward to exploring ways Michiganders can be better protected from such risks.
Michigan has approximately 2,523 dams. Of those, 1,153 are regulated by either state (1,059 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.
- December 8, 2020: Emergency work begins at Edenville Dam spillway, Tobacco River channel
- November 9, 2020: Town hall scheduled to update residents about upcoming work at Edenville Dam
- October 1, 2020: ASDSO releases review of EGLE's Dam Safety Program, offers 19 recommendations
- September 17, 2020: EGLE issues emergency work order for Edenville Dam safety measures
- September 3, 2020: EGLE names Michigan Dam Safety Task Force members; first meeting is Tuesday
- September 1, 2020: EGLE sends to governor initial status report on failed dams
- August 11, 2020: Forensic investigation of flooding, breaches at Michigan dams moves forward
- August 10, 2020: State investigators to assess concerns at remaining portion of Edenville Dam
- July 30, 2020: EGLE to hire third dam inspector, appoint task force that will evaluate dam safety in Michigan
- July 29, 2020: Disaster Unemployment Assistance Available for Residents Affected by Midland-Area Flood
- July 10, 2020: Webinar to address permits needed for recovery projects after flooding from dam failures
- July 6, 2020: Flood recovery resources topic of third High Water Summit webinar this Wednesday
- July 1, 2020: EGLE, MDHHS issue recommendations for managing soil and sediment deposits downstream of Midland
- June 18, 2020: 6 experts chosen to perform independent forensic investigation of Midland-area dam failures
- June 10, 2020: Apply for EGLE Permits Before Shoreline Rebuilding on Wixom, Sanford Lakes after Midland Flooding
- June 9, 2020: State Announces Lawsuit Seeking Compensation, Restoration of Damages Caused by Boyce Hydro
- June 3, 2020: In Midland disaster's aftermath, Michigan EGLE deploys staff to assist in cleanup, investigation, testing and risk assessment
- May 28, 2020: MDOT Shares 2020 Bay Region Flooding - Map with Photos
- May 27, 2020: Governor Whitmer Directs EGLE to Investigate Failures of Edenville, Sanford Dams
- May 27, 2020: Flooding Impacts on Septic Systems and Private Wells
- May 22, 2020: Information on Michigan-regulated Dams Available Through New Interactive Map
- May 22, 2020: State Guidelines Issued to Assist Midland-area Residents with Clean Up
- May 20, 2020: New MDOT GIS map shows flooding impacts on state and local roads across Gladwin, Midland, and Saginaw counties
- May 20, 2020: DNR conservation officers evacuate people and pets during Midland County flood
- EGLE's Dam Safety web page
- Michigan Dam Safety Task Force
- Michigan State Police Mid Michigan Flooding
- Michigan Dam Safety Program - Press Briefing Presentation June 5 2020
- Instructions for viewing the Public Archive in the EGLE FOIA Request Center relating to the Edenville Dam Failure
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.