Based on the Public Sector Consultants (PSC) Report of its 2022 Survey which was published last week, of those that participated in the survey:
Four Lakes Task Force (FLTF) has been very clear in its public position that the private dam owners and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had the primary obligations to protect the public and the environment and enforce regulations to deal with prevention and recovery. Since the failures, the federal government, by the time the recovery effort is done, will have contributed approximately $30 million and the State of Michigan has granted to date $225 million for recovery, engineering and construction, to lessen the burden to those in the Four Lakes Special Assessment District. In addition, FLTF has received $5 million in private donations, significant volunteered time, and in-kind services.
Prior to the dam failures, all four dams required improvements and repairs. Unfortunately, even with the revenue from hydropower, the model for improving the dams was not sustainable under FERC regulation and Boyce Hydro’s control. This was the fundamental issue that led the lake associations to seek a public solution to preserve the four lakes, and further, led the Counties of Midland and Gladwin to take legal action to gain control. The legal process employed under Michigan law (i.e. Inland Lake Level Act) permits counties to transition from private dam ownership to public dam ownership and to establish a special assessment district to fund the acquisition, capital improvements, operation and maintenance of dams.
After the May 19, 2020 dam failure occurred, the private dam owner went bankrupt, and as a community, we found our way back to a place where we have a financeable plan and are ready to start construction on the restoration of the lakes this year.
This is a large and diverse lake system and FLTF has spent a significant effort in developing an apportionment methodology that addresses the diverse properties on the four lakes with a methodology that apportions project costs based on the benefits derived to private properties, political subdivisions (i.e. the counties, townships and Village of Sanford), and state-owned lands within the Four Lakes Special Assessment District. Prior to finalizing the apportionment methodology, FLTF garnered substantial public input to develop an assessment roll that conforms to Michigan law.
The recommendations the Delegated Authority (FLTF) will make at tomorrow’s special meetings of the counties:
We appreciate the county commissioners in their continued support in establishing legal lake levels, and will recommend they approve the project costs, computation of cost and assessment roll for the operations and maintenance costs for 2022, 2023 and 2024.
The plan to restore the lakes is in the best interest of the lake communities and the counties, and it is supported by most of the community. It’s time to start restoration construction of the dams to bring back the lakes.
President Four Lakes Task Force
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