2020 Midland dam break
From the failure of two Midland-area dams to continued damage from climate change, Michigan’s environment was often in the news this year.
The state’s dam program suffers from a “culture of minimal enforcement” and lacks the time, staff, and budget to properly do its job, an outside review team has found.
A report into a massive dam failure in mid-Michigan didn’t assess blame, but recommends breaching part of the Edenville Dam to minimize damage and other safety concerns.
Facing a host of lawsuits, companies that operated the dams that failed during historic flooding seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, using the filing to list a litany of grievances against federal regulators and neighbors.
Michigan is adding a third dam inspector as part of reforms following the failure of the Edenville Dam that caused $200 million in damages. One inspector who oversaw the dam defends the state’s actions, saying “There’s no ‘Easy’ button, or we would have pushed it.”
In a claim filed this week, a Sanford couple whose home was destroyed in the floodwater argues federal regulators never should have granted Boyce Hydro a license to generate power at the Edenville Dam.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members are hauled before a Senate panel to answer why it took so long to act against a dam with decades of safety issues. Levying fines would have been like “getting blood from a turnip,” one regulator says.
Federal regulators tell Congress it never performed a check on Boyce Hydro’s finances before it bought a dam in need of repairs. They blame a loophole that says such checks aren’t necessary for dams bought out of foreclosure. The dam failed in May.
After criticism from experts and others who argued the state should not lead an investigation into what caused the dam failure that flooded mid-Michigan last month, the state announced an independent six-person team
A U.S. District Court judge has ordered the Edenville Dam’s owner to report back by Friday with a plan to take “immediate action” if lingering damage to the dam’s Tobacco River side poses an ongoing risk to the public.
The owner of the failed Edenville dam claimed it lacked money to make needed safety upgrades. Instead of demanding flood repairs, state lawyers played hardball on the cost of dead mussels.
19 workers who came to Michigan to work on flood recovery projects in the Midland region have tested positive for COVID-19 but subsequently left the state. Local health officials believe “one or two” of the workers were symptomatic before they came to Michigan.
One day after Michigan sued the owners of the Edenville Dam for millions, Boyce Hydro claims in court papers the state repeatedly blocked permits for repairs that could have prevented massive flooding in mid-May.
The same day Michigan sued owners of troubled dams whose failures sparked a catastrophic flood in Midland, nearby property owners call for an independent investigation. The residents say the state is misstating facts about its failure to regulate the dams.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revealed the estimates on Monday while announcing she is seeking a federal major disaster declaration. Just 8 percent of homes damaged had flood insurance, local officials estimated.
Five state-regulated dams listed as high-hazard and in poor condition could kill people and cause widespread damage if they fail, according to the state. They are located throughout the state.
More than two weeks after dam breaks and a flood, new woes have emerged in mid-Michigan where erosion threatens homes along the shoreline of Sanford Lake just northwest of Midland.
Scientists and environmental activists say they’re hopeful recent floodwaters didn’t undo years of work to clean up dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River, but they’re awaiting sampling results to know for sure.
A U.S. House committee opens an investigation into last month’s failure of two Midland dams, one of which had been flagged for decades as unsafe by federal regulators.
New satellite images, taken one year apart, contrast what Edenville and Sanford dams looked like before and after floods, as state and federal investigators investigate their failure.