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Dam difficulties

Michigan State Roundup

May 1, 2004

Dam difficulties

The Marquette area is still dealing with the effects of last year's floods; now the issues are deciding what to do with damaged dams and how to manage river restoration.

The floods were caused by days of heavy rain leading to the May 15 failure of an earthen dike at the Silver Lake Basin, releasing 8 billion gallons of water into the Dead River and causing about $100 million in damages.

In addition to the destroyed bridges and roads, the Tourist Park Hydro Dam was severely damaged. The Marquette Board of Light and Power has held several meetings for public input on the future of the dam. Engineers have identified four options, ranging in cost from $3.6 million to $6.9 million.

Meanwhile, the Upper Peninsula Power Co., which owns the Silver Lake Basin and two other damaged dams, has been holding meetings along with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources to decide how to manage the river in the future. Public sentiment is largely in favor of restoring the old system of dams, and UPPCO has commissioned a feasibility study on the matter. They caution, however, that the river will never be restored to its previous state.

In other dam-related news, Stanton Township is looking for funds to repair a 110-year-old dam that engineers say will soon burst. The cost estimates range from $300,000 to $1 million.

Joe Mahon