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Tim Smith
Tim Smith
Attorney • 231-946-0700

Investigation into Boardman River Dam Failure Continues.

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I've caught some big trout in that section of the Boardman River below Brown Bridge Dam. It was a beautiful place to wet a line knowing that you were fishing some of the same water that Len Halladay and Charles Adams once prowled. These fly fishing legends would be appalled at what has happened to their beloved Boardman River.

The initial plan was to be applauded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lywdx55O5k0&feature=related

After Saturdays epic failure during the draw down process, we may never see that quality of fishery again in my lifetime. For years our town has studied and discussed the dam removals on the Boardman River. Plans were made, engineering and construction crews were hired and what was supposed to be an 18 day draw down of the waters behind Brown Bridge Dam became an environmental nightmare for river owners and outdoor enthusiasts.

So much time and effort went into studying and planning a removal process that would leave as little impact on the river as possible with the end goal of improving the river system by returning the run of the river. But in 6 short hours, all of the water, mud, sediment and silt that was contained behind the dam poured through a breach in the dam and destroyed this section of blue-ribbon trout stream. Further, it contaminated wells of landowners downstream and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to houses below the dam.

The majority of the trout population was probably destroyed. I have friends who live in the area where the flood took place and they were finding two-foot plus trout lying dead 100ft up into the woods after the water levels receded.

All that gorgeous gravel that created a veritable insect buffet for the trout is now covered in mud and sediment. Caddis, Mayflies, golden stone flies and the rest of the insect population has been effectively destroyed. It will be years before we see the full impact to that ecosystem.

For the time being, we're consulting with existing clients as to their legal options regarding everything from the destruction of their docks which washed away in the flood, to the contamination of their wells and drinking water and damage to their homes and cottages. There are claims to be filed and the sooner homeowners get in line, the better. Expect finger pointing between the engineering company, the general contractor and the sub-contractors. Expect delays. And, unfortunately, don't expect that gorgeous blue ribbon trout stream to bounce back anytime soon to the glory of summers past….

For those of you that were affected, by aware that there is both a health advisory as it relates to your wells and drinking water, as well as a "flood damage hotline" where you can report damage to your property.

Grand Traverse County Emergency Management has issued updated contact information for information re: health issues and well contamination issues: Update: the Environmental Health Division has changed their contact number regarding the Health Advisory that was issued this past weekend related to the Boardman River Flooding. You can now reach them at (231) 995-6051. They will be operating normal business hours which are 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:30pm; Closed from 12:00pm-1:00pm for lunch.

So if you still have question or concerns regarding the use of your private well and would like to speak with an Environmental Health Specialist please call (231) 995-6051. We will continue to update area residents as information continues to develop.

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  1. Markie Obrien says:
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    One good week of sub-zero nights will move tons of silt and sand downriver as the river fills with chunks of “ice” carrying silt and sand by the teaspoonfull on their merry way to Boardman Hydro. And it is many. many,many pounds per hour.
    The Boardman is being loved to death, it is time to start considering the putting of restrictions on use.