Flooding Now Threatens Dow Superfund Site In Michigan

May 20, 2020

Waters overflow the Tittabawassee River, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Midland, Mich. People living along two mid-Michigan lakes and parts of a river have been evacuated following several days of heavy rain that produced flooding and put pressure on dams in the area.
Credit (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) — Floodwaters that overtook dams and forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people in Central Michigan now threaten a Dow Superfund site and downstream communities. The Tittabawassee River crested in Dow's hometown of Midland Wednesday at just over 35 feet, about 3 feet under what officials previously forecasted. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had warned the city could end up under about 9 feet of water by Wednesday evening. Dow says floodwater has begun mixing with on-site containment ponds, prompting the company and U.S. Coast Guard to activate emergency plans. A city official says no one has been reported hurt or killed in the flooding. Whitmer says the state will investigate the operators of the Edenville and Sanford dams.

A hydroelectric dam that failed to hold back floodwaters this week in Michigan was the target of lengthy investigations by federal regulators. The government revoked the Edenville dam's license over safety violations two years before the flooding that forced 10,000 people to evacuate their homes. Boyce Hydro Power’s history of violations lasted throughout the 14 years the company was authorized to run the nearly century-old dam. That's according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It repeatedly raised concerns about the dam’s spillway capacity. The dam is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of Detroit.