- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan has thousands of aging and under-maintained dams that could pose localized risks.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said that all but six of the state’s 88 potential high-hazard dams are approaching 50 years old, the average engineered life span for a dam, the Detroit Free Press (https://on.freep.com/2kK1y0q ) reported.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Michigan a D grade on the condition of its dams in 2009, saying more than 90 percent of the state’s nearly 2,600 dams would reach or exceed their design life by 2020.

A new report card is in the works for this spring, but report card co-author Jeff Krusinga said the grade “won’t be getting any better.”

Krusinga said any dam collapses in Michigan wouldn’t be as bad as the possible Oroville Dam collapse in California because that dam is much higher than Michigan’s dams. The crumbling of the Oroville Dam has resulted in the evacuation of more than 200,000 people.



“You’ve got to remember, that dam is over 700 feet high,” Krusinga said. “Most of our dams are less than 25 feet high. There are some over 100 feet, but that’s just a handful.”

A 2007 study found that the state has almost 120 dams in need of an estimated $50 million for their repair or removal. The study was done by the Public Sector Consultants and Prein and Newhof for the Michigan Municipal League Foundation.

“Infrastructure needs attention; it needs financial attention,” Department of Environmental Quality dam safety chief Byron Lane said.

Lane said a dam can last centuries if properly maintained, but what’s happening to dams in Michigan and nationwide is resulting from neglect.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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