Michigan Infrastructure Needs An Upgrade. Midland Flooding Proves It.

Lack of regulation and high maintenance costs proves to be a lethal combination for Michigan’s aging dams.

Last week, Michigan experienced one of its worst infrastructure disasters in the state’s history.

“Dams were originally built to be something bigger, it was part of the American dream.” — Dustin Walsh, Crain’s Detroit Business

The failure of the Edenville Dam flooded large areas of Mid Michigan, including the city of Midland. The catastrophe has brought to light issues with the state’s aging and crumbling infrastructure. 

Listen: Is It Time to Fix Our Nation’s Aging Dam Infrastructure? 

Dustin Walsh covers economic issues for Crain’s Detroit Business and wrote a piece last week titled “Why our infrastructure is a dam failure”.

Walsh says that many of the state’s existing dams were built a very long time ago, most of which are now nearly a century old.

“Dams were originally built to be something bigger, it was part of the American dream,” says Walsh.

He says this isn’t the case anymore, with many dams aging, hard to take care of and expensive to to repair. Regulation has been another major issue with dams according to Walsh. He says many dams are now owned by private enterprises and for those that aren’t, oversight is strained.

“It’s a patchwork regulatory framework that has been changed piecemeal over time,” says Walsh of dam regulation in the Michigan. 

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date

WDET is here to keep you informed on essential information, news and resources related to COVID-19.

This is a stressful, insecure time for many. So it’s more important than ever for you, our listeners and readers, who are able to donate to keep supporting WDET’s mission. Please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.