Apr 12, 2021
Repair of aging U.S. dams got barely a mention in Biden’s new infrastructure proposal. “It’s one of those ticking time bombs that can really devastate a community,” said a Michigan woman forced to flee her home almost a year ago when 2 dams collapsed in mid-Michigan.
Torrential rainfall of 150-year proportions in May of 2020 led to 2 privately owned dams failing. The city of Midland was under up to 9 feet of water. State and federal emergencies were declared in 5 counties: Midland, Gladwin, Iosco, Saginaw and Arenac. People’s lives were destroyed. Flood damage remains a year later.
Ordinary people often don’t know when they live near an aging dam. In the U.S., there are 90,000 dams in 50 states. The “design life” of a dam is usually 50 years and over half of U.S. dams are over 50 years old!
Also, over half of U.S. dams are privately owned just like the 2 dams that failed in Michigan! Bought as a tax shelter by a wealthy family, necessary repairs were never made. Owners wanted taxpayers to foot the bill!
A recent report with recommendations that came out in March about the mid-Michigan floods was deliberately “toned down” to make it less scary.
In fact, since 2016, at least 5 studies have looked at dam safety in Michigan. Funded by both Republican and Democratic administrations, all concluded there is a festering problem with dams in Michigan that needs action. Both parties have been unable to deliver what their own studies say is needed. Why?
Society cannot keep people safe and maintain dams properly when the job description of the government under capitalism is to prioritize profit first. If we leave profit in charge of deciding what does and does not happen in this society, disaster prevention will not happen. Private property looks out for the best interest of private property and not of humanity, period.