New DNR Grant Program to Address Dam Removals, Critical Maintenance

October 9, 2012

The Department of Natural Resources has announced a new Dam Management Grant Program to address Michigan’s failing dam infrastructure. The grant opportunity will provide $2.35 million in Fiscal Year 2013 to fund dam removal and critical maintenance, implementing a key tool highlighted in Governor Rick Snyder’s 2011 address on infrastructure needs.

“This program begins to address a growing issue for our state as more than 90 percent of Michigan’s dams will reach or exceed their design life by 2020. Many dams are abandoned, no longer serve any useful purpose, degrade our aquatic resource, and pose safety hazards to downstream residents,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh.

The Dam Management Grant Program will provide funding and technical assistance to local and state units of government, non-profit groups and individuals to manage dam removals or repair/major maintenance projects that will enhance aquatic resources and fishing opportunities in Michigan. It will focus on projects that reduce long-term infrastructure costs and address those that are an imminent public safety issue and are deemed of unsatisfactory condition by Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) dam safety or are under DEQ order. The program will be administered by the DNR.

“There are 2,600 Michigan dams listed in the State Dam Inventory with even more not included in this database. Most of these dams were built decades ago for a variety of uses including power generation, water supply, log transportation, flood storage and recreation,” said Chris Freiburger, coordinator of the Dam Management Grant Program.

Nearly 75 percent of Michigan’s dams are privately owned, with many of these facilities – as well as those in public ownership – falling apart as shown by the fact the American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the state a “D” in its 2009 Dam Infrastructure Rating.

Information and applications for the Dam Management Grant Program can be obtained from any Fisheries Division office or downloaded at or at Grant applications must be postmarked by Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, to be considered for the Fiscal Year 2013 funding cycle.

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