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Four Lakes Task Force: $338 million to rebuild dams, restore lakes

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - It has been almost four months since the failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams.

The resulting catastrophic flooding caused around $175 million in damage. But that amount is just a chunk of what the Four Lakes Task Force estimates will cost to rebuild the dams and restore Wixom and Sanford lakes.

“This is a 100-year-old lake system almost. It’s got a history of being lakes, it’s got a legal lake level. We see this now as an environmental restoration program,” said Four Lakes Task Force President Dave Kepler.

The task force estimates a cost of $338 million. That is for the Edenville, Sanford, Secord and Smallwood dams.

Homeowners on Wixom and Sanford lakes could pay as little as around $1,500 all the way up to roughly $3,100 a year for 40 years.

Secord and Smallwood lakes homeowners could pay anywhere between roughly $250 and $775 a year for 40 years.

“We need to find a way to make it as reasonable as possible. But we also have to be transparent on what the facts are so that people can make their decisions," Kepler said.

Other sources of funding the task force plans to explore include government grants, private donations, endowments, general public access charges and other means.

The next step will be to acquire the properties from current owner Boyce Hydro, which has filed for bankruptcy and is facing a number of lawsuits. Then a feasibility study, which will assessing, designing, engineering and financing the massive project.

“It’s just taking this plan and driving it down to what’s going to be able to be implemented and get it leveled so there’s confidence of getting it financed,” he added.

Right now, the task force says restoration of Secord and Smallwood lakes will be the year 2023, while Wixom and Sanford Lakes would be the year 2025.

The task force has filed a condemnation lawsuit against Boyce Hydro. They are confident the switch in ownership will happen by the end of the year.

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