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Tobacco River in Gladwin County lowered by 13 feet as a safety precaution

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 7:49 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (3/10/2021) - Two weeks ago, safety measures were implemented to help keep the Tobacco River spillway structure, part of the Edenville dam, from suffering additional damage.

(KEVIN) Collapsed sheets of ice hug the banks of the Tobacco River.

It’s the result of a planned lowering of the water levels, by as much as 13 feet.

“The berm to the west side of the existing spillway was unstable. That raised the concern level about spring rains, snow melt, run-off, ice movement, that we could possibly lose that berm,” said Gladwin County Emergency Manager Robert North.

Lowering the river water levels now, will lessen the force of the water on that berm, which was breached last spring, damaging several bridges as well as the Sanford dam downstream.

But, it also exposes additional hazards, including accumulated debris and tree stumps.

“Like we talked about back in the fall, it is unsafe to operate vehicles of any type out there. If you walk out there, there will be certain muddy spots, where, if you sink down far enough, you will not be able to self-extricate,” North commented.

(KEVIN) And lake residents shouldn’t look forward to putting their boats in the water anytime soon.

“Water levels aren’t coming up without the dams being in place. They are what they are, and they aren’t going to change from what they are right now,” North added.

Moving forward, the Four Lakes Task Force will continue to evaluate what needs to be done at all the dams affected by last spring’s flood.

According to a Michigan Dam Safety Task Force report issued less than two weeks ago, nearly three quarters of all recorded Michigan dams are more than 50 years old, their average lifespan.

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