Failing dam poses threat downstream

The Department of Environmental Quality is working on the repairs over the next few weeks.

Corunna city officials say they knew this day would come. The Corruna Dam has been failing for years. Corunna City official, Tim Crawford, said, "There's always been a hole in front of the dam, and there was a little whirlpool. That whirlpool got a lot bigger."

So big, in fact, that the Department of Environmental Quality has stepped in telling residents to stay away and deeming the dam a major problem. "They came out and at that point in time categorized this as being a dam failure," said Crawford.

The DEQ plans to lower the river behind the dam, sending the water around the deficient structure. Crawford said it should not affect recreation on the river. "You're trying to channel 200 ft of water through 20 ft. I just don't see that happening."

While the DEQ works to repair the area, one major hurdle stands in the way, said Crawford. "The state's opinion is that the City of Corunna owns the west side and the homeowner on the east side owns the east side of the dam." However, the city and homeowner say it's the state's property. An issue all parties hope to resolve.

Meanwhile, as residents are asked to not trespass, Crawford says the failing dam does not pose an immediate risk to residents downstream. "The whole thing is not going to fail at the same time. It's just going to be in spots where it's the weakest."

The DEQ is working on the repairs over the next few weeks. During that time, a fence has been placed around the area telling residents to stay back.