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Meltwater Causing Dam Problems in Upper Michigan Submitted: 04/30/2013
MARENISCO - Seventy-degree temperatures mean you can see snow melting almost right before your eyes.

For most of us tired of a long winter, that's good news.

But in parts of the Upper Peninsula, it's more of a curse than a blessing.

"If there's a failure and we get too much water going downstream, the town of Marenisco is actually about three miles from the dam," said Marenisco Police Chief Bruce Mahler.

A dam failure on the Presque Isle River is a very real concern for people near the Upper Michigan community of Marenisco.

A huge amount of water from rapid snowmelt is putting far more pressure on the 54-year-old dam than usual.

On Monday night, it began to give.

"We had a failure in the gate, right in the middle of the gate, where the top of the gate cracked and began to bow out," Mahler said. "Our maintenance supervisor was able to get it hooked, and get it cranked back into place."

The temporary solution looks like it will keep the community of Marenisco and the roadways around here in good shape.

But more precipitation predicted later in the week has people thinking more pressure could be put on the dam.

Leaders are hoping not to repeat what happened in 2002, when the earthenworks on the sides of the dam failed and Marenisco flooded.

Now, the rebuilt earthenworks are strong, but it's the dam itself that presents the biggest threat to the community.

"We have a plan to take care of that. Hopefully we won't get to that point," Mahler said. "Right now, the dam looks like it's in great shape with the temporary fix, so we're hoping not to get there."


Story By: Ben Meyer

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