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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A special task force set up to study Michigan’s dam safety rules and regulations met virtually for the first time Tuesday.

Liesl Clark is the head of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.  And she's a member of the 19-person task force.

She says the task force was formed after two dam failures in May helped create devastating floods in Midland and Gladwin counties.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State senators are debating how much money needs to be spent on Michigan’s dams.

At a committee hearing on Tuesday, legislators heard how state regulators prioritize grant applications for repairing or removing aging dams.

State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) has concerns that the needs of aquatic life play too big a role in deciding which projects receive grants.

“I’m appalled at the fact that safety concerns have to go through fisheries and get vetted by biology, rather than by public safety interests,” says McBroom.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two U.S. Senators are calling for more regulation of privately owned dams, in the wake of this week’s massive flood on the Tittabawassee River.

Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters toured the flood zone Saturday by air and on the ground with local officials and FEMA’s regional administrator.

The failure of two privately owned dams Tuesday, after days of heavy rain, helped create the record setting flood on the Tittabawassee River that forced thousands to evacuate, and damaged homes, businesses, roads and bridges. 

National Weather Service

Flood waters have crested in Midland, but the cleanup will have to wait until the waters recede.

In Midland, the Tittabawassee River crested Wednesday at 35 feet — a record, but not as bad as first feared. Projections on Tuesday put the expected crest at 38 feet.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, thousands have evacuated Midland County after dam failures led to an emergency. We check in with a hydrologist about what causes dam failure. Also, the superintendent of the West Bloomfield Public School District discusses why waiting for state guidance about this fall is not an option. Plus, a Michigan business’s quick pivot from hotel to front-line food provider during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Branch County Drain Commissioner

  

Update, 3:54 p.m. on 8/20/18:

The Branch County Drain Commissioner reports that repairs to the Blackhawk Dam continue Monday, and the repairs have returned the dam to normal flow and operation. 

The dam will be evaluated by engineers to establish a long-term strategy.  The Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service for the Coldwater River and Pilot Knob area will expire August 20th.  

The risk for flooding has been reduced. Residents in the affected area should continue to monitor local media outlets and official messaging for the latest information and updates.  Branch County Emergency Management and the City of Coldwater will continue to monitor the situation.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Demolition crews have nearly completed tearing down Flint’s Hamilton Dam.

The crumbling 95-year-old landmark became a backdrop for many national television stories about Flint’s water crisis during the past few years.

However, the dam will soon be no more.

Crews have been demolishing the dam for the past few months. They expect to finish next month.

There are 2,5000 dams in Michigan and more than 90% are going to hit or exceed their design life by 2020. On today's show: How concerned should we be about our aging dams, and is there the money and political will to fix them? Then, the state's chief medical doctor explains why this year's flu season seems to be a particularly rough one.  And, one man from Ann Arbor is working to earn respect for dads all over America with the Dad 2.0 Summit. Also, the Detroit Zoo is not just a tourist attraction, it's a leader in animal conservation and preservation. 

First on the show, the data and numbers crunchers have been working away, trying to peer into the future to figure out what lies ahead for Michigan over the next 10 years in terms of jobs and pay.

The verdict: Michigan's economic axis is tilting west. Rick Haglund's recent story for Bridge Magazine is headlined: "Future job growth favors West Michigan." 

And Don Grimes is with the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

They join us today to discuss the issue.

Photo by Bob Allen

There are nearly 2,600 dams in Michigan, and more than 90% are going to hit or exceed their design life by 2020.

That's according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave Michigan a grade of "D" on the condition of its dams.

Keith Metheny looked into the issue of Michigan's aging dams in a recent piece in the Detroit Free Press, where he is the environmental reporter. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A newspaper reports that many Michigan dams are old and need upgrades, especially the Hamilton dam in downtown Flint.

State dam safety chief Byron Lane tells the Detroit Free Press that dams are like any aging public infrastructure. He says they can be a "ticking time bomb."

The newspaper reported Sunday that the Hamilton dam on the Flint River is considered to be in unsatisfactory shape, along with the Otsego and Trowbridge dams on the Kalamazoo River in Allegan County.