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Sanford dam stabilization is one step closer to completion

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Courtesy of Four Lakes Task Force

Stabilization of the dam that failed in 2020 and caused widespread flooding in Midland County is a few steps closer to completion. The next key steps is getting debris out of the lake.

Roughly 4,000 trees, entire buildings, and hundreds of boat lifts were swept away off private property when the Sanford dam broke. Recovering the debris from drained lakes is easier said than done. First, the shoreline had to be stabilized to protect homes.

But millions of cottonwood trees have sprouted at the bottom of the lake covering 15 to 16 hundred acres and that makes it difficult to get the debris out.

David Rothman is Vice President of Four Lakes Task Force, the group that manages of the dam.

"In order to find the debris, we have to figure out where it is. And we're using modern electronics to do that. The trees are so thick, you can barely walk through them. They range from anywhere from five feet high to 20 feet high," said Rothman.

Rothman added that construction crews are two weeks away from closing the hole in the Sanford dam. He estimates the Sanford dam stabilization will be finished sometime this fall.

"And we will be directing the water to flow back through the spillways," said Rothman. "And that will complete the third of three projects to return the tobacco and the Tittabawassee rivers to their original river channels."

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.