As we work through the Special Assessment for the operations and maintenance of the dams, we've received questions about how the dams will operate and what benefit they bring. Below is a brief explanation with links to articles published in the past that explain these concepts.
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The dams will be operated as "run of the river" facilities. This means the dam gates are operated to keep a normal "legal" lake level, such that the outflow from the dam is equal to the water flowing into it. The dams will not store additional water in the lake, therefore the lake levels will not fluctuate as much as they did when the dams produced power. The lake level is more stable and downstream of the dam, the river will be a natural flow, with less negative impact on the shoreline.
GEI Consultants completed the Semi-Quantitative Risk Analysis (SQRA) process for the northern two dams, which resulted in a recommended inflow design flood (IDF) for both dams. The recommendation will allow the dams to safely pass a 10,000-year storm event, which corresponds to a 1 in 10,000-year Annual Exceedance Probability (0.01% AEP). AEP is the chance or probability of a natural hazard event (usually a rainfall or flooding event) occurring annually and is usually expressed as a percentage. It should be noted that the May 2020 floods for the Secord and Smallwood dams were estimated to be between the 100- to 200-year flood (1% to 0.5% AEP).
Secord, Smallwood, Edenville, Tobacco and Sanford dams were built in the 1920s for the purpose of hydroelectric power generation, with the additional benefit of recreation. The dams are now being repaired and restored to return the lakes to their normal legal levels which will restore the benefits of a healthy ecosystem and recreational uses of the bodies of water. This provides economic benefit to the region as well as a lifestyle enhancement, all improving the quality of life in the region.
Without private hydro power generation, a county can own a dam that creates a lake, but assessments will be needed to operate and maintain the lakes and dams. Properties that have deeded access are in the Four Lakes Special Assessment District. We are reviewing those benefit factors with the property owners.
We believe the counties to have the dams restored, and according to the public survey conducted by PSC, 74% of property owners believe the costs should be shared with people outside of the Special Assessment District. The counties, by law, may determine to contribute to a portion of maintaining the normal legal lake levels by paying out of their general funds. If the counties approve the at-large assessment, it will be because they agree that there is an economic and tax benefit to their county. There will NOT be assessments to property owners outside of the Four Lakes Special Assessment District.
FLTF previously documented in its Restoration Plan that an additional $10 million of funding in 2022 would be needed to stay on our plan. While we anticipate the state legislation will pass and provide significant funding to restore the lakes, FLTF is pursuing $10 million in a Grant Anticipation Note to bridge until we get state funds so we can stay on our current timelines for the stabilization of the dams.
While we hope the note is not needed, we will continue to pursue this interim path until the state funding is passed by the Michigan House and signed by the Governor.
On January 15th and 17th, we hosted two of four Preliminary Days of Review. During these periods 138 property owners met with Spicer engineers and FLTF board members to discuss their parcel benefit factors. This was a successful event and engineers were able to refine the SAD based on the feedback they received.
The first 2022 FLTF board meeting on behalf of the Four Lakes Special Assessment District will now take place on March 3rd. The meeting is open to the public. Please note this change on your calendar.
March 3, 2022, 5:00-7:00 p.m. | Grace A. Dow Memorial Library
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