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Health, Science and Environment

Five high hazard dams in Michigan are in “poor” condition, according to the state

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State officials say there are five dams in poor condition across Michigan with a high hazard rating… meaning they pose a threat to life and property if they were to burst.

At a media briefing Friday, state officials explained that Michigan has 85 “high hazard” dams - meaning a breach could harm people or property.

Of those dams, six are in “poor” condition. One of them is the now-collapsed Edenville dam. 

Luke Trumble is with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“Poor has two tiers. One is that we know there is a problem with a dam that puts it at risk. The other is that there is not enough information to make that determination, we would rate it as poor.”

There is one rating below “poor” which requires immediate action. According to state officials, no “high hazard” dams are currently at that tier.

Trumble said typically the state tries to resolve problems with dam maintenance amicably and only rarely escalates enforcement. He said there are no plans to escalate enforcement at the five remaining dams.

“I don’t think there is a plan to do any escalated enforcement action in the short term at those dams right now, but that can change day to day if the condition deteriorates or the dam owner stops being responsive.”

Trumble said EGLE was still trying to resolve the problems with the Edenville dam amicably when the dam breached.

Environmental groups have suggested the best action to protect against dam breaching is removal. Removal can cost anywhere from $300,000 to several million.

The dam safety management program has a budget of roughly $350,000 annually.

Two regulators are responsible for overseeing over 1,000 dams.

You can view an interactive map of the state’s dams here.