Today Four Lakes Task Force (FLTF) provided comments related to the recommendations being considered by the Michigan Dam Safety Task Force during its public meeting. In his statement, FLTF President Dave Kepler, on behalf of Midland and Gladwin counties, noted:
An effective dam safety program requires continuous and periodic project inspections and assessments. To be sustainable, the program must be focused and collaborative in the management of Michigan’s dams and lakes. Dam safety information and risk communication must be accurate, timely and clear so individuals can understand risks and make informed decisions about their safety.
The four lakes are not the only examples of what can happen to private dams. They are an example of what will happen to every other dam in Michigan that was originally built for the purpose of generating hydropower electricity. This fate has been pre-determined for many hydropower dams that can no longer sustain the infrastructure to support the lakes, regulators or market conditions.
The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force should consider a preamble to its recommendations that frames, for the public, counties, legislators and agencies, the overarching principles related to how these recommendations should be implemented. Principles that address the current situation AND move to a sustainable system should include:
Part 307 is the exclusive statutory basis for the governance of lake levels and provides a model for ensuring the financial, environmental sustainability and safety of dams.
The lake community should be an active stakeholder in the Michigan Dam Safety Task Force program.
The State should manage a lake’s ecosystem and dam infrastructure on a service life basis.
Part 307 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act is framed well in its ability to achieve the goals of inland lakes and streams. Expanding the number of dams regulated under Part 307 should be a targeted goal of the State.