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Edenville Dam Recovery

An aerial view of the Tobacco River Spillway with water flowing and construction vehicles around
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Edenville Dam Recovery

The content on this page is no longer being updated, but Michigan EGLE is preserving it as a historical resource. 

For assistance, please contact our Environmental Assistance Center at or 800-662-9278.

Preview of the Tobacco River Flow Restored interactive story map
Preview of the Tobacco River Flow Restored interactive story map

Tobacco River Flow Restored Story Map

The major portion of work to restore the Tobacco River to it's natural course is now complete. The Tobacco Spillway of the Edenville Dam was partially demolished while the river channel downstream of the dam was cleared of debris to allow a return to a more natural river flow. The emergency work was necessary after the dam in Gladwin County failed in May 2020 following intense storms in Mid-Michigan. The story map provides a project update and discusses what's next.

Past Updates

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the first step was taken in lowering the Edenville Dam spillway by 20 feet as part of an emergency work project. An interactive map has been created to show the worrisome ice areas -- launch the Worrisome Ice Area interactive map. You may also download a pdf of the Worrisome Ice Area map. Related materials: FAQ: Edenville Dam Impoundment Drawdown

EGLE sends to governor initial status report on failed dams

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.

The Edenville Dam Spillway with water flowing over it.

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. Download the Michigan Regulated Dam Statistics

View the Michigan Regulated Dams Interactive Map

Database of Michigan Regulated Dams

Michigan Dams by the Numbers

There are 2 full time EGLE staff dedicated to the safety of Michigan-regulated dams. Out of the 2,521 dams in Michigan, 730 are privately-owned dams regulated by the state, and 329 are publicly-owned dams regulated by the state. 85 state-regulated dams are classified as high hazard, meaning in the event of a breach, there is expectation of severe damage and potential loss of life. Of those dams classified as high hazard, 0 are rated 'unsatisfactory' and 5 are rated in 'poor' condition. All numbers are approximate, as Michigan's dam inventory constantly changes. 

In the 2018 Michigan Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers assigned Michigan's dams a C- grade, citing more than $225 million necessary to address the state's aging dams. 271 Michigan dams are over 100 years old. 12% of Michigan dams have a "high" or "significant" hazard potential rating. 67% of Michigan's dams have reached their intended 50-year design life. (Infographic: Michigan Dams by the Numbers)