Dam owner files for bankruptcy protection | Michigan Radio
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Dam owner files for bankruptcy protection

Aug 4, 2020

The Edenville and Sanford dams collapsed in May.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A company that owns two mid-Michigan dams that failed in May has filed for bankruptcy. The filings were made in the federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Heavy rains swelled Wixom Lake in Gladwin County, eventually breaching the Edenville Dam on May 19. After the dam failed, torrents of water swept down and over the Sanford Dam. Rising water surged into the Tittabawassee River, eventually rising cresting at a record level in the city of Midland. 

Homes and businesses were inundated. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate. 

Boyce Hydro is facing numerous lawsuits. By filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company's creditors and those seeking damages will face another obstacle.

“The guy has to have a mechanism to protect himself...and his business. That what Chapter 11 does,” says Attorney Lawrence Kogan, who represents Boyce Hydro.

Kogan blames Boyce Hydro’s current financial difficulties on state and federal regulators.   

Attorney General Dana Nessel says by filing for bankruptcy, Boyce Hydro is potentially leaving Michigan taxpayers holding the bag.

“This is a clear example of the problem that can arise when private entities own public infrastructure. Boyce Hydro has been a negligent owner and manager for years, and now, rather than dealing with the tragic circumstances that resulted from its negligence and paying the cost to fix those problems”

The Four Lakes Task Force, which was in the process of acquiring Boyce Hydro’s four dams before the events of May 19, declined comment on the company’s bankruptcy filing.   

On Monday, the task force filed court papers to acquire the dams through eminent domain.