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Feds say Secord Dam damaged, along with other Boyce Hydro dams

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

Federal officials say another Boyce Hydro Power dam in mid-Michigan was damaged during last week's historic flooding. 

In a letter from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dated Thursday, an official wrote that "initial observations" found "erosion of the downstream slopes" at Secord Dam, which is upstream from two dams that were breached, causing widespread damage and prompting the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents.

John Zygaj, a FERC regional engineer, mentioned the Secord's condition in his letter while directing Boyce Hydro's Lee Mueller to file an incident report by June 16. A phone call to Mueller's attorney wasn't immediately returned Friday.

The Second Dam in Secord Township is damaged, according to federal regulators.

The Edenville and Sanford dams on the Tittabawassee River breached May 19 after heavy rains and winds, emptying Wixom Lake and flooding parts of the Midland area. More than 10,000 people were evacuated before the floodwaters crested May 20.

Video of the Edenville Dam shows water spewing through cracks in the grass before outpouring through the top of the 54-foot dam and cascading down.

Boyce Hydro owns the four dams: Edenville, Sanford, Smallwood and Secord. The FERC regulates all but Edenville, which is overseen by state officials. The four dams on the Tittabawassee River create Wixom, Sanford, Secord and Smallwood lakes.

The Detroit News reported Wednesday that the Smallwood Dam was damaged even though Boyce Hydro officials indicated to the FERC it had no "consequential" harm, according to the federal agency that oversees the dam. On May 20, the FERC ordered Mueller, who is based in Las Vegas, do an inspection of the Sanford, Smallwood and Secord dams three days after the water receded. It's not clear the status of that inspection.

And it ordered Mueller to form an "Independent Forensic Investigation Team" to determine the "the root cause of the overtopping damage to Sanford Dam as well as any other contributing causes." The FERC is giving Boyce Hydro until May 29 to submit a proposal for the team. 

A two-county authority on Tuesday halted the planned purchase of the four Boyce Hydro dams, saying the deal would not go forward "under the terms that were negotiated with Boyce Hydro this past winter." The task force had secured at least $5 million in state grants for repairs and was working to set up a special assessment for the anticipated two-year ownership transition and $100 million in planned upgrades.

cmacdonald@detroitnews.com