The Flook Dam, connected to Portage and Baseline lakes in Dexter and Webster townships, needs work


The Flook Dam. photo courtesy of Washtenaw County

The overall structural stability of the Flook Dam, just downstream of Portage and Baseline lakes, is satisfactory, but there is an issue that needs fixing.

An informational meeting is expected to be held on Oct. 25, by the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office to address the dam’s issues.

In a notice to the community, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office said “Although routine inspections have indicated the overall structural stability of the dam is satisfactory, our office contacted a consultant with engineers that specialize in structural elements of waterway dams in April of this year to further analyze the integrity of the gate apertures and concrete abutments. While preparing to conduct an inspection one of the control arms on an outer gate failed, rendering the bay inoperable. We stabilized the situation by taking the control gate offline, and as a result of the subsequent inspection, also cordoned off another gate bay as a precautionary measure and began creating a plan of action. We do not believe there is imminent threat to residents or their property. The lake level can still be controlled through the use of the remaining three operational gates.”

The Sun Times News first saw this information through the Dexter Township “in the loop” community email update sent out on Oct. 20.

The Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office said it operates Flook Dam as part of a legally established lake level. The dam, constructed in 1965, controls water levels in the lakes through the use of five radial gates separated by concrete piers.

In the notice, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office poses the question: Could This Have Been Prevented?

It said, “By statute, for this dam our office must furnish a dam inspection report to EGLE every three years and remedy any items identified as urgent/necessary. The component that failed was not previously identified as necessary for repair. It is unclear at this time whether it was specifically inspected or if we will be able to answer that question. We have recently made safety and electrical investments to the dam to be pro-active – these were not required and had planned further maintenance later this year after an inspection of structural, mechanical, and other components. Our goal was to be ahead of the regulatory schedule.”

The county said the inspection report determined that the radial gates controlling flow had corroded and experienced section loss resulting in a severe condition and that a crack on the west retaining wall is moving yearly and is in poor condition.

According to the county’s Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, the Flook Dam is a special assessment district of roughly 1,200 property owners in four townships.

“These property owners are fully responsible for costs of maintaining the lake level control (dam), as outlined in Part 307 of PA 451- the state statute covering environmental issues and most, if not all, of EGLE's role and responsibilities,” said the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office.

Because the dam controls lake levels in two lakes that both straddle the Washtenaw/Livingston County line, the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office is also in contact with the Livingston County Drain Commissioner as several items need to be coordinated.

Portage and Base Line lakes are located in Dexter and Webster townships.

“Our goal is to finance repair cost in the $200-$400 per year range for a multi-year assessment,” the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office said in its meeting notice.

It's expected there will be an annual $10,000 cost to properly maintain the dam.

For updates and more  information,  go to:

The informational meeting will be held in person and virtually at Pathfinder Schools, 2100 M-36. In Pinckney and over Zoom
at, dial by phone: 1-372-626-6799 with Meeting ID: 854 7885 5093 and Passcode: 513656.

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