Dam Failure

Dam failure is the collapse or failure of a dam resulting in downstream flooding.

  1. There are two dams in the City of Lansing: Moores Park and North Lansing. Both are on the Grand River and are owned by the Lansing Board of Water and Light.
  2. Neither dam produces power, but the water behind the Moores Park Dam is used to cool turbines used in producing electricity.
  3. The North Lansing Dam could be opened to reduce flooding in some conditions. The MDEQ would have to approve opening the dam for that purpose.

Moores Park Dam


The Moores Park Dam is more than 100 years old and is a high-risk dam. That is because of the impact it would have if it were to fall, not because it is in bad condition or likely to fall.

North Lansing Dam


The North Lansing Dam is more than 80 years old and is a moderate-risk dam. That is because of the impact it would have if it were to fall, not because it is in bad condition or likely to fall.

Safety


There are two dam break warning sirens, on in Moores Park and one in Cherry Hill park. When the sirens are sounded, anyone in the area should seek higher ground. When fishing or using the parks downstream of a dam, always be aware of changing river conditions that could indicate a problem.

Mitigation


Dam removal is the most effective way to reduce the threat of dam break. Although the North Lansing dam is no longer used for electrical production, infrastructure has been built based on the footprint of the pond behind the dam. If the dam were removed, it would require changes to infrastructure such as the storm water system and the Riverwalk, among others.

Lansing's History


The Moores Park Dam was built in 1908 and is the original dam at that location. The current North Lansing dam was built in 1936, but a dam has stood at that site since 1838. The original earthen dam in North Lansing was damaged by flooding in 1844, but there has not been a dam failure in the city since the concrete structures were built.