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Michigan Lawmakers Propose $500M To Repair Dams After Breach

Michigan State Police
Aviation Unit

Michigan lawmakers on Wednesday proposed spending $500 million to repair aging dams a year after a hydroelectric dam failed to hold back floodwaters in the Midland area, causing more than $250 million in damage, draining lakes and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes.

Pending legislation would create four new funds dedicated to dams. The money would help cover repairs related to the disaster, upgrade high-risk dams elsewhere, fund responses to future disasters and draw federal match funding to rehabilitate or remove dams.

Policy bills would add requirements for dam owners, including that they can financially handle potential problems. The state has accused Boyce Hydro Power of “gross mismanagement” preceding the devastating flood in Midland and Gladwin counties.

“I get it – there’s been a lot of talk and too little action,” House Speaker Jason Wentworth, a Farwell Republican, said in a statement. “With these bills, we are going to lock the state into a real plan big enough to actually fix the problem and fast enough to start delivering results in our most vulnerable areas before it’s too late.”

Legislators were still finalizing how to propose splitting the $500 million among the accounts.

In May 2020, the Edenville dam failed during a steady rain, draining Wixom Lake and unleashing the Tittabawassee River, which then overwhelmed the Sanford dam, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of Detroit.

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