Edenville Dam Failure

Experienced Property Loss Attorneys Dedicated to Connecting Families Impacted by the Edenville Dam Collapse With Fair Compensation

The Edenville Dam, built in 1925, impounded the Tittabawassee and Tobacco Rivers to form Wixom Lake. However, over the years, concerns about the dam’s ability to handle major flood events were raised by various authorities. For example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had expressed concerns about the dam’s capacity to withstand a significant flood event for years. In fact, by 2018, the dam’s license to generate hydroelectric power was revoked by FERC due to non-compliance with safety standards, especially the dam’s inability to handle the Probable Maximum Flood. Shortly thereafter, the dam was overwhelmed and flooded, causing millions of dollars in property damage.

The Edenville Dam Failure and Collapse

Following days of heavy rainfall in mid-May 2020, water levels in Wixom Lake rose significantly. On May 19, 2020, the dam was breached, resulting in a massive release of water that subsequently led to the downstream Sanford Dam also being overwhelmed. This caused extensive flooding in areas downstream, including the city of Midland. Thousands of residents were evacuated, and the floods caused significant property damage. Thankfully, there were no reported fatalities directly attributed to the dam failure.

Investigations into the causes of the failure revealed a combination of factors. These included the aforementioned longstanding concerns about the dam’s structural integrity, the heavy rainfall, and potential issues with the dam’s management and oversight.

Was the Edenville Dam Failure Preventable?

Following in the wake of one of the worst disasters in Michigan’s history, it appears that the Edenville Dam failure could have been avoided. Investigations into the causes of the failure revealed a combination of factors. These included the longstanding concerns about the dam’s structural integrity, the heavy rainfall, and potential issues with the dam’s management and oversight.

As noted above, FERC identified the dam’s vulnerabilities dating back to 1993, at which point FERC urged the owner to increase the dam’s spillway capacity. And again, Boyce Hydro Power, LLC, purchased the dam, and FERC re-raised its concerns. However, despite the concerns, in 2018, the federal government gave the State of Michigan the ability to regulate the dam. Michigan has less strict regulations for dams, which meant that Boyce was not required to make any changes.

In fact, despite ongoing awareness of the dam’s vulnerabilities, the State of Michigan actively urged Boyce to keep Wixom Lake’s water level high to maintain the shoreline for recreationalists and property owners.

In the fall of 2019, Boyce asked state regulators if it could lower the water level; Michigan denied this request. Boyce then lowered the water level on its own, and, in response, the state filed a lawsuit against Boyce. However, Boyce subsequently raised the lake level, citing pressure from shoreline residents and state regulators.

When the dam broke, it devastated homes, businesses, vehicles, boats, and other property. While both Boyce and the State of Michigan point fingers at each other, the innocent victims of this tragedy faced the challenge of rebuilding their lives. The dam’s structural vulnerabilities were well-known to both the regulators and the owners. Considering the evident risks the dam presented, Boyce’s failure to address its most critical weaknesses, combined with the regulators’ failure to mandate necessary improvements—and even making matters worse by mandating high water levels—impacted families may be entitled to compensation. Multiple lawsuits have already been filed in federal court, with many more expected in the future.

If you or a loved one were affected by the Edenville or Sanford Dam failures, you may be entitled to compensation. However, don’t expect Boyce or the State of Michigan to fairly compensate you without a fight. The dedicated property loss lawyers at the Neumann Law Group are immediately available to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.

Were You Affected by the Edenville Dam Collapse?

If you owned property that was impacted by the Edenville Dam failure, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from either the State of Michigan, Boyce, or both. At the Neumann Law Group, our Traverse City property loss attorneys are meeting with victims to discuss their legal rights. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, give the Traverse City real estate and property law attorneys at the Neumann Law Group a call at 800-525-6386. You can also connect with us through our online contact form. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless and until we can connect you with the compensation you deserve.

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