Feds revoked license for Edenville Dam in 2018 worried it couldn't handle large floods

Posted at 8:24 AM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 12:32:58-04

MIDLAND, Mich. (WXYZ) — The federal government in 2018 revoked the license for the hydro-power generator for the Edenville Dam – which has now collapsed – in Midland and Gladwin counties.

Related: Photos show catastrophic damage after Edenville Dam failure

According to a federal court filing filed on Sept. 20, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revoked the license for the 4.8 megawatt Edenville Project because of the Boyce Hydro Power's "longstanding failure to increase the project's spillway capacity.

The commission issued the license on Oct. 16, 1998, and Boyce Hydro took over the license in 2004.

Related: Thousands evacuate after two dams breach in Mid-Michigan

According to the filing, one major concern was the "project's inability to pass the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) due to inadequate spillway capacity."

Those guidelines require the dam to handle a flood up to the PMF by withstanding overtopping of the loading condition or alleviating the risk that a dam failure would not constitute a hazard to life or property downstream.

Related: Tittabawassee River discharging at 374K gallons per second, more than 4 times previous record

The PMF, according to the feds, is the "flood that may be expected from the most severe combination of critical meteorologic and hydrologic conditions that is reasonably possible in the drainage basin under study."

On Monday, thousands of people were evacuated from the Midland area after "catastrophic dam failures" at the Edenville Dam and Sanford Dam.

Gov. Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Midland County and urged residents to seek shelter. She warned that downtown Midland could be under 9 feet of water by Wednesday.

“This is unlike anything we’ve seen in Midland County,” she said. ”If you have a family member or loved one who lives in another part of the state, go there now.”

In the court filing, the feds say the dam is in a high hazard zone and that a failure "would create a threat to human life or cause significant property damage."

You can read the entire filing below.

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