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Boyce Hydro fined $15 million for dam safety violations that led to failures, floods

Flint-Saginaw-Bay City WJRT logo Flint-Saginaw-Bay City WJRT 4/15/2021 ABC12 News Staff
a tree with a mountain in the background: The Secord Dam has been sold to the Four Lakes Task Force. © Provided by Flint-Saginaw-Bay City WJRT The Secord Dam has been sold to the Four Lakes Task Force.

MID-MICHGAN (WJRT) - The former owner of four dams in Mid-Michigan has been fined $15 million for violations that caused two of them to fail 11 months ago, leading to recording flooding.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission leveled the civil penalty against Boyce Hydro Power on Thursday for numerous violations on the Secord, Smallwood and Sanford dams. The company also owned the Edenville Dam, which partially collapsed in May 2020 after heavy rainfall.

The collapse of the Edenville Dam sent the contents of Wixom Lake rushing downstream in the Tittabawassee River, where the Sanford Dam was overwhelmed and caused massive flooding around Midland and Saginaw Township. About 10,000 residents were evacuated as roads washed out and homes were destroyed.

“Today’s decision sends a clear message to all licensees of FERC-jurisdictional hydroelectric projects: It is imperative that they comply with the safety requirements of their licenses,” FERC Chairman Rich Glick said. “Public safety is a top priority at these facilities, and we will do whatever we can to protect communities.”

Federal regulators say payment of the civil penalty should not affect Boyce Hydro’s payments to victims for damage incurred during the floods last year. The $15 million fine will be collected after the bankrupt company compensates victims to recover damages.

FERC issued a show cause order to Boyce Hydro in December to address violations of staff orders and license provisions at the Secord, Smallwood and Sanford dams. The company was given 30 days to address the violations with an answer to why it should not receive the $15 million fine.

The federal agency determined that Boyce Hydro did not respond to any of the factual allegations from FERC.

The Four Lakes Task Force has taken ownership of all four Boyce Hydro dams following the failures and floods. The organization is developing a more than $200 million plan to repair the broken dams and restore the lakes that mostly drained after the dams failed.

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