Clean Water Action Calls for Immediate Water Infrastructure Investment After Dam Failures

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Background: On Tuesday May 19th, 2020, the 95 year-old Edenville Dam failed in Gladwin County, MI creating flash flood conditions in both Gladwin and Midland counties. The collapse of the nearby Sanford Dam, also built in 1925, appears imminent as of the release of this statement.

The following statement can be attributed to Mary Brady-Enerson, Michigan Director, Clean Water Action:

“We thank first responders for their bravery and commitment, and our thoughts are with all those impacted by the record-breaking high-water levels across our state. We also thank Governor Whitmer for promptly declaring an emergency and activating the state’s emergency response center. We are hopeful there will be no loss of human life thanks to the decisive actions of first responders and Governor Whitmer.

For far too long, Michigan’s water infrastructure has been ignored and underfunded. The Edenville and Sanford  hydro-electric dams built nearly one hundred years ago failed in Gladwin County today, causing massive flooding and requiring residents to evacuate their homes. The impact of outdated water infrastructure is heightened by the effects of global climate change. Climate change is water change.

Now more than ever, we need Legislative leaders in Lansing to step up to the plate. We need immediate and significant investments to replace outdated and failing infrastructure in order to protect Michigan communities from catastrophes like we are witnessing today in the Midland area. Each day that goes by without properly funding water infrastructure is one day closer to the next failure and risks the lives and livelihoods of Michiganders. It’s time for Lee Chatfield and Mike Shirkey to do their jobs.”


Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Clean Water Action is Michigan’s largest grassroots conservation group with over 250,000 members across the state. Through direct advocacy and education we organize Michigan residents to protect the Great Lakes and our water resources. Learn more at


Sean McBrearty