An inspection ordered by the Four Lakes Task Force (FLTF), a Michigan non-profit representing Midland-area lake associations and property owners, confirms the Edenville Dam did not meet state capacity requirements before it failed.

Because of the structure’s failure, the 2,600-acre Wixom Lake reservoir emptied, then causing the Sanford dam to fail and causing devastating floods.

FLTF released the inspection report amid class action lawsuits against a state agency and the Edenville Dam owner and licensee alleging their neglect to properly maintain the dam resulting in millions of dollars in property damage for area residents.

Inspection Report Details

Engineering consultants from Saginaw-based Spicer Group inspected from June 2019 to March 2020, just a few months before the Edenville Dam collapsed on May 19, 2020. FLTF released findings from the inspection on June 11, 2020.

As stated in the report, Spicer observed that the structure of the Edenville Dam was in “fair to poor condition,” had “deficiencies which need to be corrected,” and lacked “adequate capacity to pass the 1⁄2 Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) event” to meet Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) requirements. Spicer recommended that Boyce Hydro, the owner and licensee of the dam, initiate “needed repairs, maintenance, or monitoring.”

Spicer’s study of the dam during the winter revealed that water could not pass through a powerhouse and over concrete spillways necessary to maintain legal lake levels. Excess ice buildup created unsafe working conditions, which meant that the dam operators could not perform the recommended repairs and maintenance.

The report noted the Edenville Dam had been classified “as having a high-hazard potential due to the impact that a potential failure could have on downstream developments, potential for loss of life and potential for failure of downstream dams.” Spicer recommended no changes to the classification.

FLTF Report Supports Allegations Against Boyce Hydro and EGLE

Because of Boyce Hydro’s indifference to a possible dam breach, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revoked the company’s license for the Edenville Dam in June 2018. Nine days later, EGLE – which had ultimate oversight at that time – stated in a three-paragraph report that dam was:

  • In “fair” condition;
  • Its earthen embankments were “well maintained, with only a few bare spots, minor erosion, and no visible signs of significant distress;” and
  • Two concrete spillways “showed signs of moderate deterioration… but appeared to be stable and functioning normally.”

The agency’s findings were inconsistent with Spicer’s report, further evidence of both Boyce Hydro’s and EGLE’s negligence and disregard for repairing the dam and allowing the massive flooding that caused catastrophic property damage in Midland County and the Village of Sanford in May 2019.

Speak With an Experienced Flood Damage Attorney

Attorneys Jason Thompson and Elaina Bailey have filed lawsuits against EGLE, Boyce Hydro, and others seeking damages for area residents. If you are a homeowner or renter in Midland County and sustained flood damage, please contact our Midland Flood Hotline at (248) 746-4041 – we’ll discuss your situation with you and help you pursue your right to compensation

Jason J. Thompson

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Jason J. Thompson

Jason Thompson is a nationally board certified trial attorney and co-chairs Sommers Schwartz’s Complex Litigation Department. He has a formidable breadth of litigation experience, including class action and multidistrict litigation (MDL), and practices nationwide in both state and federal courts.

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