Michigan Dam Safety Task Force members met via zoom as part of a Michigan State University Institute For Public Policy and Social Research forum.
Task Force Vice-Chair Doug Jester and was joined by EGLE Dam safety unit supervisor Luke Trumble and former Governor’s advisor Bill Rustem, to share the impact of last May’s flooding and progress made since then.
Rustem says “we have ignored our infrastructure for far too long. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about your roads and bridges, our waste water treatment plants, our public drinking water supplies, or dams; we have had a tendency to build them and then not maintain them. That’s a fundamental problem that government face today, and that problem is compounded, frankly, by climate change.”
According to Jester, even with information on how much of the state’s more than 11 hundred regulated and 14 hundred unregulated dam structures could be at risk of failure; some Dam owners may not want to fund emergency response plans or repairs.
This is where he says appropriation budgets, which would need less significant legislation, would provide a kind of standing-fund for emergency action when dam owners are unwilling or unable to respond to emergency conditions.
In addition to a timeline of the flooding event following investigations, the group answered questions about the future and status of affected lakes and dams, and how the state and dam owners can make better emergency plans for their own infrastructure and issues coming from upstream.