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.
How the Restored Dams Will Operate in Large Storms
The dams were not built or used for flood control for large storms. We still get a few questions challenging this point, primarily with the view that property owners downstream should pay for the benefit of "flood control dams." Regardless of these theories being brought forward, the future use of the restored dams will not be for flood control, nor is there significant capacity in the Four Lakes system to build flood control dams that would justify the investment.
While the dams will not control floods for the downstream communities, the dams will be built to withstand major flooding. FLTF will provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EGLE with flow rates later this year for the flood studies downstream of the Four Lakes system. In addition, there will be extensive analysis on each of the dams as they are designed to ensure they can safely be rebuilt.
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