DETROIT – After two dam failures led to catastrophic flooding in mid-Michigan, the Local 4 Defenders did some digging into dams in Southeast Michigan. It turns out six dams in the area are considered “high hazard potential."
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the state is suing Boyce Hydro, the owners of the dams that failed in mid-Michigan. As the investigation continues into who was responsible for the Edenville Dam failure in Midland, the Defenders looked into the dams back home.
Hazard designations have to do with downstream impact should a flood occur. It’s not based on a dam’s condition. A high hazard dam might cause serious damage to homes, buildings, highways and lives, according to experts.
Here are the six Metro Detroit dams listed as high hazard potential:
- Oxbow Dam
- Pontiac Lake Dam
- Dawson Millpond Dam
- Lake Louise Dam
- Linden Dam
- Stormwater Pond 6 Dam
Residents who live near Oxbow Lake in White Lake Township call it heaven. They say lake life is wonderful, but those who spoke with the Defenders had no idea the Oxbow Dam was listed as a high hazard potential dam.
Should a flood happen at the lake, damage to property and life would be serious, officials predict.
The Pontiac Lake Dam is also considered a high hazard potential -- upsetting news to those who live and fish on the lake.
When Defender cameras were there recently, they captured video of crews working on the dam. EGLE, the state authority that inspects the dams hasn’t answered a questions about what those repairs were about.
Also in Oakland County are the Dawson Millpond Dam and the Lake Louise Dam.
The investigation also took the Defenders to Genesee County, home of the Linden Dam.
“My grandma lives right down the road,” Linden resident Danielle said. “We come out here, I want to say, three times a week in the summer to go fishing and everything.”
Danielle is like many residents who never gave too much thought about the dam.
“I mean, it’s scary, but it’s something you don’t really want to think about,” she said.
Todd Hammons told the Defenders he’s worried about the Detroit Metro Airport Stormwater Pond 6 Dam being on the high hazard list.
“It’s rained and it gets up there,” Hammons said.
After the Edenville Dam, which was considered a high hazard dam, broke and caused devastating property damage, many who live downstream from other dams want to know what condition they’re in.
According to EGLE, there are 85 high hazard potential dams in the state. Most of those are in satisfactory condition, officials said.
The Defenders asked for copies of the inspection reports and lists of violations for the six high hazard potential dams in Southeast Michigan, but we are still waiting for that paperwork.
Deficiencies are typically identified during inspections, which is why those reports are important.