Thursday, May 21, 2020

Today's News

My post yesterday about the removal of older, unmaintained dams became today's news in Michigan.

The Edenville Dam, built privately in 1924, had been owned and operated by Boyce Hydro Power. In 2018, their permit to operate had be revoked when a survey of the dam noted structural deficiencies and design flaws that made it vulnerable to a high water event. The spillways were only capable of shedding about 50% of the anticipated water. As water built up in the reservoir, pressure on the back side of the earthen dam would exceed the strength of the dam and a catastrophic failure was deemed possible.

Late yesterday afternoon, this predicted event occurred. 2.9 billion cubic feet of water were released into the Tittabawassee River. Wixom lake was drained.  Here's footage during and then after.


Beans said...

Yes. The state of many dams is past dangerous. And, sadly, so is the state of the regulatory system on those dams that oftentimes makes it impossible to fix or replace the damn dams.

Thus.... Orville dam, in California. A known issue for 30 years before it finally breaks, because any repairs to it were sidelined by environmental impact fees, lack of graft to government employees and the ever-present games of 'Pass the Buck' that shoves any fix into the future and 'Not In My Back Yard' because residents in the area don't want nasty trucks and industrial noise 'polluting' their worlds located conveniently in the way of any potential flood.

Seriously... Most dams that break are known problems, for years.

Unknown said...

Interesting recent history on the Edenville dam that failed.

The Feds think the spillway needed to be able to pass twice the amount of water that it was designed to pass, but the owner couldn't get financing to make the improvement.

They lost their FERC license to generate hydro electricity as a result, but the loss of license also kicked regulation of the dam from the feds to the state.

With no FERC requirement to maintain the height of the lake, the operator then dropped the lake level so that any flood condition would not be hazardous. The history since then has been competing lawsuits with the dam owner suing the state in federal court to be allowed to operate the dam at a safe level, and the state suing the owner in state court to force them to raise the level.
(lakefront homeowners upset with fronting a mud not a lake, environmentalists upset with changes to freshwater mussel habitat.

A deal had been made transferring ownership to a local authority, but not finalized. The previous owner was still operating the dam but seemingly doing so according to the instructions of the soon-to-be-owners.

The local lake association had been issuing almost daily newsletters in late-April/Early May touting their progress at pushing to get the lake level to normal in time for boating season. They were successful until yesterday, it was right up to "max" when the floodwaters came from upstream, and it turns out that the feds were right and the spillways really did need to be considerably larger in capacity than what was existing.

Aaron said...

Even worse, even while the Dam didn't meet Federal standards, the State of Michigan was suing the owners of the damn due to the risk of loss of freshwater mussels in Lake Wixom due to the owners lowering the lake levels.

The state pressured them to keep the water levels in the lake high, contributing to leaving the dam rather vulnerable to the collapse when there was suddenly too much water - with the results we have now.

HMS Defiant said...

You knew that the underlying failure was because of government idiocy and the insanity of the eco-freaks.

Ted said...

Every Dam is inspected regularly by an independent Team of Professional engineers who produce a report for both the State and Federal regulators. A large percentage of those inspections are categorized as " Danger of Failure ".

My office in Colorado did 150 inspections a year. The reports were filed away, but nothing was ever done to fix the dams. Proposals were written. Designs were done. Environmental Impact statements were written.

But no construction contracts.

All the money was spent on designs and studies. --- more than the initial cost of the regular maintenance that was not done and caused the problems in the first place.

Much moe.

Bbut a

ProudHillbilly said...

And then they had a big ol' fire to the north. I told my daughter, who lives just north of Detroit, that they are definately on the "getting murder hornets" list.