By DEB WUETHRICH
and MICKEY ALVARADO
City residents of Tecumseh that could be impacted by a potential drawdown of Red Mill Pond, which is regulated by the Tecumseh Dam, will be receiving letters from the city very shortly or have them already. The move comes after the city received a copy of an Emergency Dam Safety Order and Notice of Hearing from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) sent to Red Mill Pond LLC.
Dated Oct. 24, the order came from the desk of Gerald Fulcher, P.E., Acting Chief of the Water Management Section, Water Resources Division. Byron Lane, P.E., Chief of the Dam Safety Program, Water Sources Division signed the letter for Fulcher. Lane and Luke Trumble, Environmental Engineer of the Hydrologic Studies and Dam Safety Unit, visited Tecumseh October 13 for an unofficial visual inspection of the dam.
At that time, Wally Pike, the dam’s operator for several years, also was present and said that he will no longer be tending the dam, effective Nov. 1. Pike was originally paid a small stipend by Tecumseh Products, who formerly owned the dam, and the new owners for a brief time, but was informed in January by attorneys for Huntington Bank, who holds the mortgage to the property since Red Mill Pond LLC went into foreclosure, that there would be no more pay for the role. Pike has continued to raise and lower the gates and put in boards since then.
The MDEQ ordered Red Mill Pond LLC, as owners of the property, to “arrange for qualified personnel to operate the Tecumseh Dam” no later than Nov. 1, 2011. If no operator is named, the order was to draw down the dam.
The letter states that the MDEQ may issue emergency orders to an owner to immediately repair, draw down, breach or cease operation of a dam “where a dam is in imminent danger of failure and is causing or threatening to cause harm to public health, safety, welfare, property, or the natural resources or the public trust in those natural resources.”