Contractor to Pay $300K for Michigan River Damage

October 10, 2014

The contractor hired to remove a northern Michigan dam will pay $300,000 to resolve a lawsuit and restore a river that was damaged when the dam failed.

Traverse City commissioners approved the settlement agreement on Oct. 6, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. Molon Excavating Inc. will pay $120,000 to Boardman River property owners to cover costs from the October 2012 breach of the Brown Bridge Dam. The company will pay $180,000 to a River Settlement Fund to help restore about 10 miles of river.

Molon designed and constructed a dewatering structure that was supposed to slowly lower the 170-acre Brown Bridge pond. The structure eventually failed, draining the pond within several hours and flooding over 50 properties.

After the breach, a handful of property owners sued the city, which owns the dam, the Boardman River Dams Settlement Agreement Implementation Team and firms involved in the removal of the dam.

The $120,000 settlement will be divided between six or seven property owners who will use the money to remove arsenic contaminated soils from their yards, according to Karen Ferguson, an attorney who represented the 12 families involved in the lawsuit. The property owners will also have a say in the restoration work that will be done.

“We are very pleased that we will be able to assist them and finally get some work on the river and restore the health of the river,” Ferguson said. “We know this will take a long, long time but we are hoping this will help speed up the process.”

Mayor Michael Estes said the city is pleased with the settlement. Property owners argued Traverse City should be liable for damaging floods and erosion after the dam’s removal.

“It has been resolved to our satisfaction and the city is off the hook,” Estes said.

Officials plan to support environmental projects through the River Settlement Fund instead of paying fines to the state.

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