Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton say the inquiry is critical for cities with highly hazardous dams.
MIDLAND, MI — A U.S. House committee is investigating the failure of a Michigan dam, giving the state two weeks to respond to a series of detailed questions about inspections and oversight.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a similar letter to a federal agency that had oversight of the Edenville Dam in Midland County until fall 2018.
“This inquiry is critical to ensuring this never happens again in any city in America with a high hazard dam,” said Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, who are members of the committee.
“It is concerning there are serious gaps in existing laws, and gathering the facts will be essential as we consider future bipartisan legislation to protect communities across the country,” they said.
About 11,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes two weeks ago when the Edenville and Sanford dams failed, unleashing the Tittabawassee River, about 140 miles north of Detroit.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, said dam operator Boyce Hydro Power had a string of violations over 14 years. The agency said it repeatedly raised concerns about the Edenville Dam’s ability to prevent flooding during extreme conditions because of an inadequate spillway capacity.
The House committee wants Michigan to explain why it found the dam in fair condition in October 2018, just a month after FERC revoked a license. It also wants to know the size and finances of the state’s dam safety program. Responses from FERC and the Michigan environment department are due by June 15.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week told the same department — Environment, Great Lakes and Energy — to investigate the Edenville and Sanford dam failures.