The roads commission repairs the Argentinian dam | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

Argentinian canton. — The Argentinian canton dam is being repaired.

The Genesee County Roads Commission (GCRC) began work on Monday, May 16. Over the next few months, it will repair both the main spillways and the auxiliary gate, among other repairs.

Traffic is reduced to one lane at this time. The repairs cost around $700,000, paid for by the GCRC.

Throughout the summer of 2021, residents of Argentina Township lobbied township, county, and state officials for the dam to be repaired. They have regularly attended Lobdell-Bennett Lake Association meetings to voice concerns about the infrastructure and the potential for total dam failure, such as what happened when Edenville Dam failed in 2020.

In November 2019, the right main spillway of the Argentine Township Dam ruptured, causing approximately 11 inches of water to be lost from Lobdell and Bennett Lakes in approximately five days.

Argentina’s dam is classified by the state as “significant hazard potential,” meaning failure would cause significant environmental, economic, and public safety risks, and no loss of life is expected.

The main spillway structure, located near the centerline of the dam, consists of two 5-foot-wide by 6-foot-high gated spillway bays controlled by mechanical gate operators located in the deck of the Silver Lake Bridge. Flows from the spillway gates flow through a large concrete stilling pond to North Ore Creek below the dam.

The dam was built in 1929. It is owned by the Argentine Township, and under an agreement with the dam’s original owner, the Argentine Light and Power Company, the Genesee County Road Commission is responsible for the maintenance of the dam.

The GCRC has spent nearly $494,000 since 2005 to maintain the dam, which includes the construction of an auxiliary spillway in 2001.

A dam safety inspection report dated May 2020, from the Water Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), indicates that there are no was no indicator suggesting an immediate threat to the structural stability of the dam.

“…there were no apparent structural defects that would cause the dam to fail immediately,” the report said.

The report also revealed that an operation and maintenance (O&M) plan had never been developed for the dam. It recommends that the embankments be regularly cleared of trees and brush, and that the emergency action plan (EAP) of the dam in coordination with the department be updated.

“They’re finally doing the job and we’re thrilled and grateful,” said Argentina Township Supervisor Brian Saad. He thanked Senator Ken Horn and State Representative Mike Mueller for their assistance.

Eric Johnston, director of engineering at the GCRC, said they will both replace the primary outlet spillway gates and install new operating mechanisms. They will replace the logs, which open and close depending on the conditions, in the auxiliary weir. Upstream work also includes replacing the waste grate, which keeps branches and other objects out.

The GCRC will install tarps to prevent the flow of water from passing through the main doors. Johnston said that will remain in place through the summer and part of the fall. Once this is done, they carry out the necessary work on the primary doors. The contractor is ET Mackenzie.

“It will still be usable all summer long,” he said, adding that they can lower the tarps if needed.

This first week, the contractors assemble a crane and collection equipment. Johnston expects the traffic lights to be in place until mid-June, when they could be reopened to two lanes. They hope to get legislative assistance to help pay for the project.

Mueller posted a statement on Facebook on Tuesday, May 18, which reads: “I am happy to see that the work on the Argentinian dam is fully effective. This is the result of a collaborative effort between the lake association, the township, the county highways commission and the state legislature. I look forward to continuing to support these efforts and completing this repair.

Aurora J. William