Michigan Invests Millions into Fixin’ the Damn Dams

Debris rests at the spillway of the failed Sanford Dam in downtown Sanford in 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff McMillan, File)

By Kyle Kaminski

May 24, 2023

A total of $15.3 million in state grant funds will help local communities repair, upgrade or remove dams across Michigan, including about $5 million earmarked for the city of Ypsilanti.

LANSING—More than $15 million in grant funding authorized by the state legislature last year is now headed out to local communities to help them manage more than a dozen dams statewide.

A total of 16 dams across Michigan are set to be upgraded or removed as part of the state’s Dam Risk Reduction Grant Program, which provides private dam owners with resources for proper management of existing dams and to reduce the overall risk of dam failure statewide.

Here’s a quick overview of where the latest grant awards are going, and how they’re helping:

Ypsilanti — $4.78 million

The city of Ypsilanti received $3.78 million to remove the Peninsular Paper Dam, which will help restore a section of the Huron River into a free-flowing waterway and also reduce flooding risks.

The Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission received $1 million to remove the Tyler and Beyer dams located on Willow Run Creek. The removal of the deteriorating dams will reportedly stabilize sediments and stream the channel into place, reducing erosion, improving water quality, and ensuring the county drain can properly handle an onslaught of flood waters.

Brooklyn — $2.53 million

The River Raisin Watershed Council received a grant to remove the Brooklyn Hydroelectric Dam, which will allow the headwaters of the River Raisin to become naturally reconnected.

Alger — $2.32 million

The Forest Lake Property Owners Association received a grant to fix the Forest Lake Dam, which failed due to a flood in May 2020 and now needs repairs before it can function again.

Flint — $1.5 million

Genesee County’s Parks and Recreation Department received a grant to remove the Hamilton Dam. This project will reportedly help restore the stream and allow for seamless fish passage.

Albion — $1 million

The city of Albion received a grant to remove the Albion Dam, as well as four other unregulated dam structures. The city’s main goals for this project include softening the shoreline while improving floodplain connectivity, ultimately to improve recreational amenities and help wildlife.

Republic — $750,000

The Michigamme River Basin Authority received a grant to remove and reconstruct the rock arch rapids at the Republic Dam, which is currently rated in poor condition. The new structure will reportedly better handle flood events, and also allow for a series of step pools in the rapids.

Holly — $530,000

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources received a grant to repair the Heron Dam—namely to replace the outlet, inlet and gate to ensure the dam is functioning properly. The project also reportedly addresses seepage and embankment stability concerns near the dam.

Marquette — $473,724

A. Lindberg & Sons, Inc. received a grant for the partial removal of the Carp River Intake Dam. The upper portion of the spillway will be removed, lowering the reservoir by 10 feet, which will reduce health and habitat risks and potentially lower the overall hazard classification of the dam.

Tecumseh — $425,000

The city of Tecumseh received a grant to repair the Standish Dam. The main goal of the project is to remove the historic Raceway Spillway since it no longer serves a purpose and poses a failure liability. This action has been identified by the state as an “emergency action” item.

Rose City — $300,000

Huron Pines received a grant to help remove the Sanback Dam. Its removal will allow the stream to be restored, which will aid in protecting the natural wildlife habitat in the area.

White Cloud — $222,712

The city of White Cloud received a grant to repair the White Cloud Dam. The city plans to complete concrete and metal work, and complete a study on the feasibility of removing the dam.

Saline — $192,000

The city of Saline received funding to help study the eventual removal of the Saline River Dam. The grant will reportedly help the city outline the benefits, risks, costs and steps required to remove the dam, as well as develop plans on how to eventually complete the removal project.

Baldwin — $115,000

The Conservation Resource Alliance received a grant to help remove the Baldwin Fish Hatchery Dam. Its removal will reportedly restore the river by reconnecting floodplains, getting rid of river sediment, and providing an in-stream habitat for wildlife in the form of pools and woody debris.

Clarkston — $106,000

The village of Clarkston received a grant to design a replacement structure for the Clarkston Mill Pond Dam. The project will involve a lake level study to determine the most effective alternative for a dam—as well as the installation of a new water control structure and a new discharge pipe.

Manchester — $71,060

The village of Manchester received funding to evaluate the structural condition of the hazardous Ford Manchester Dam, as well as assemble a long-term plan to ensure it’s properly maintained.


  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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