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FERC Issues Order Proposing Revocation of Edenville Dam License
On Feb. 15, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notified Boyce Hydro Power, LLC (Boyce) of a proposal to revoke Boyce’s license for the Edenville Dam. If the license is revoked, Boyce will no longer be able to generate and sell power from the Edenville facility.

The following statements in the Order should be of interest to the Wixom Lake community:

Public safety would not be affected by revoking the license. Should the Commission ultimately revoke Boyce Hydro’s license, the Commission’s jurisdiction will end, and authority over the site will pass to the State of Michigan’s dam regulatory authorities.” 

 “Revocation of the Edenville Project license does not mandate removal or any modification of the dam... as a general rule, we do not condition the effectiveness of a license revocation by imposing additional requirements on a licensee that has shown its unwillingness to comply with other Commission orders.

Boyce has 30 days to request a hearing on this Order. We will continue to follow the situation and keep you informed.
Aug. 1, 2018.  The new Four Lakes Task Force has submitted its first progress report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Wixom Lake Association is a participant in this task force.  Click the links below to see a copy of the letter and related resolutions.
​Temporary Secord, Smallwood, Wixom and Sanford Lake Drawdowns Planned for Fall, 2018

Aug. 8, 2018.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is requiring all owners of earth-embankment hydroelectric dams to conduct special “focused spillway inspections”. These inspections are a consequence of the near-failure of the Oroville, California earth-embankment hydroelectric dam in 2017. Owners of affected dams will inspect the downstream structure of the spillways, looking closely for any part of that structure that needs repairs. This requires exposing parts of spillways that are normally submerged.

We have been advised by Boyce Hydro Power LLC. (Boyce) that all four Tittabawassee River dams are tentatively scheduled for this inspection in the Fall of 2018, plus required spillway gate tests. The inspection and spillway tests require that Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes be drawn down 4' (four feet) below normal summer levels. It will take 6-10 days to draw the lakes down, 4-8 days for inspection and spillway gate testing and then 5 or more days to refill the lakes. Because the lakes will be drawn down below their regulated seasonal levels, Boyce needs approval from FERC to perform the drawdowns and is also required to contact Michigan regulatory agencies (e.g., DNR and DEQ) to request their comments on the proposed drawdown dates. Boyce has contacted each of these agencies and is awaiting formal replies.

Boyce’s current plan and schedule: Drawdowns will begin Sept. 20 at a rate not to exceed 8” (eight inches) per day. The lakes will be drawn down 4’ by Oct. 1. The spillway structures will then be inspected and photographed. All the spillway gates will be inspected and operated. Commencing between Oct. 5 to 8, the lakes will be refilled at a rate not to exceed 9” (nine inches) per day. It will take at least 5 days to refill the lakes.  

Things to keep in mind. Readers are advised that, even with FERC approval of the schedule above, there will still be uncertainty. Rainfall, or the lack of it, may affect timing of lake lowering and refilling. Heavy rains could interfere with drawing the lakes down and/or maintaining the lowered levels. Refilling the lakes could take 5 days to a few months, depending on how much rain our area gets this Fall and any delays in the inspection process.

We are advising the public of the planned drawdown now, as this may affect plans people have for removing boats and other equipment from the lake prior to winter. We are in favor of conducting the spillway inspections and spillway gate tests. We have reason to believe the inspections and tests will happen this year. We expect to have confirmed dates later in August. When we have those dates, we will publish another notice to the public.

We are grateful that FERC and Boyce have agreed to conduct the inspections and spillway tests outside the busiest part of the boating season.

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Do You Have An Opinion On The Lake Drawdowns? Tell FERC!

August 29, 2018.  Perhaps you heard a rumor recently that Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes would be drawn down before Sept. 20. There’s a grain of truth behind the rumor, but there has been no decision whether to allow a drawdown or when it may start.  

On Aug. 27, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) published a letter from Boyce Hydro Power LLC asking to move the date for beginning the lake drawdowns from Sept. 20 to Sept. 16. That’s the true part and the source of the rumor.

We contacted FERC to understand how they will handle Boyce’s request for the earlier drawdown date. Here is what we learned today, Aug. 29, 2018.

On Aug. 7, FERC published a Notice of Application for temporary drawdowns of Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes beginning Sept. 20. FERC procedures required a 30-day public comment period following publication of such a Notice. The last day of that public comment period is Sept. 6.

FERC will not make a decision on Boyce’s drawdown request until the public comment period has closed.  If you have comments on the plan to draw down the lakes, including whether drawdowns start Sept. 16 or Sept. 20 or some other day, you have until close of business Sept. 6 to make those comments to FERC. Your comments will be considered in FERC’s decision on Boyce’s request. FERC has received several comments already and they do pay attention to public input. A comment can be a single sentence stating your support of or opposition to the proposed drawdowns.

Here are FERC’s instructions for making comments on the drawdowns:
Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at:
You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket numbers P-10809-044, P-10810-050, P-10808-061, and/or P-2785-095.

P-10809-044 is the docket number to use if you are commenting on Secord Lake, P-10810-050 for Smallwood Lake, P-10808-061 for Wixom Lake and P-2785-095 for Sanford Lake. If you are commenting on more than one lake, use the docket numbers for each of those lakes.

Boyce Withdraws Request for Sept. 16 Drawdown, Sept. 20 Remains the Target Date for Beginning Drawdowns

Sept. 8, 2018.  In a Sept. 6, 2018 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC), Boyce Hydro Power LLC withdrew its request to begin drawing down Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes on Sept. 16.  The original Boyce request to begin drawing down the lakes on Sept. 20 is still in effect.  The primary purpose of the drawdowns is to conduct focused spillway inspections in compliance with a FERC order. During the drawdowns, the dam owner also plans to test all the spillway gates.

FERC approval is required for the lake drawdowns. That approval has not yet been granted. FERC is waiting for Boyce to submit a Water Management Plan for the drawdowns, which was due Sept. 7. In the Sept. 6 letter, Boyce stated the Water Management Plan will be delivered Sept. 10. FERC will need time to review the Plan before considering whether to approve the drawdowns. Boyce originally committed to notify local newspapers 2 weeks in advance of the drawdowns, after FERC approves the drawdowns. That is no longer possible if the drawdown is to begin Sept. 20.

Boyce also noted that some of the hardware on spillway gates needs to be replaced before the gate opening tests. The gate opening tests are not part of the focused spillway inspections, but are scheduled to be done in the same time period as the inspections.

We will continue to watch the situation and report any significant happenings.

FERC Publishes Order Revoking Boyce’s License to Generate Electricity at the Edenville Dam 
Sept. 13, 2018 Facts:
  •FERC issued an “Order Revoking License” on Sept. 10, 2018, affecting only the Edenville Dam.
  •The revocation will be final 15 days later- Sept. 25, 2018.
  •Boyce has been ordered to “permanently disable” the dam’s generating capacity by Sept. 25.
  •The Order can be appealed until Oct. 10.
  •After the license is revoked, responsibility for regulating the dam passes from the Federal Government to the State of Michigan.
  •After the FERC license is revoked, the Edenville Dam owner is not currently subject to any regulations on his management of Wixom Lake water level.

We have been expecting FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to revoke Boyce’s license, ever since FERC started the process on Feb. 15, 2018. We were not expecting the revocation to occur so soon.  Work is in progress to create a Michigan lake level order for Wixom Lake.

It is too early to know what will happen as a result of the license revocation order. We are monitoring the situation and will publish updates as things develop.  We have been in daily contact with FERC in Chicago and Washington, D.C. since Sept. 10 to understand consequences of the revocation.

FERC Approves Lake Drawdowns, but with Modifications

Sept. 14, 2018.  On Sept. 14, FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) posted an order approving the Boyce Hydro Power LLC request for drawdowns on Sanford, Smallwood and Secord Lakes. FERC also advised Boyce that Wixom Lake must be lowered to allow inspection of the Smallwood Dam spillways.

FERC approved lowering Sanford and Smallwood lakes beginning Sept. 20. FERC approved lowering Secord Lake no earlier than Sept. 24. FERC did not consider the request to lower Wixom Lake, because Wixom Lake will no longer be under FERC jurisdiction after Sept. 25. FERC did note that Boyce is responsible for lowering Wixom Lake as necessary to inspect Smallwood Dam spillways.

For those wondering when Wixom Lake will be lowered, it is most likely that Wixom Lake will be lowered at the same time as Sanford and Smallwood. Boyce will bring people into town to conduct the spillway inspections and will probably want to perform all those inspections in the same few days. The Wixom and Smallwood drawdowns are required to perform the spillway inspections.

For those wondering when Wixom Lake will return to normal summer levels, FERC will no longer have any jurisdiction over that, as things currently stand. If you have not planned to have your equipment out of Wixom Lake by Sept. 20, you might want to reconsider.

Sept. 18, 2018 Midland Daily News Article on Drawdowns and Revocation

Sept. 18, 2018. Midland Daily News (MDN) published a front page article on Tuesday, Sept. 18 regarding the drawdowns of Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes and the Edenville hydroelectric license. Some statements in that article need clarification.

The Edenville License was revoked by a vote of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Kimberly Bose is the Commission Secretary and does not vote on these matters.

If the license revocation order is not successfully appealed, the license will be revoked, but the dam will not be “relinquished to the state” as reported in the MDN article. Boyce Hydro Power LLC will continue to own the dam. The State of Michigan will become responsible for dam safety, environmental and other regulatory matters that were previously FERC’s responsibility.

Wixom Lake Association Director Rothman has not spoken to the reporter, Ms. Nims, since the license revocation order was issued. It is unclear why a statement about the license revocation and lake recreation was attributed to him. Rothman is actively involved in work to ensure the future of all four Tittabawassee River dams and lakes.

It is not known whether Boyce Hydro will be required to “remove all of its electrical generating equipment from the Edenville Dam” as reported in the MDN article. FERC’s Sept. 10 Order Revoking License states “Within 15 days of the issuance date of this order, Boyce Hydro must permanently disable the project’s generating equipment”. According to our contact in FERC’s Division of Hydropower Administration & Compliance, it is up to the dam owner to decide how to “permanently disable” the generating equipment. After the dam owner has acted on his decision, FERC will rule whether the owner’s solution is satisfactory.

Wixom Lake and Future Water Levels
As you noticed, the drawdown of Wixom Lake is underway. The target for the drawdown is 4’ (4 feet) below normal summer lake levels. At 8:45 PM Sept. 20, the lake was 11.5” below the level we measured on Sept. 16 at 10:45 AM. It should drop up to 8” (8 inches) per day until the lake level is down 4’.  Boyce Hydro Power LLC filed a Water Management Plan for the drawdowns, which FERC has approved. According to the Plan, the lakes will begin re-filling at “night” on the following dates:
SecordOct. 2
SmallwoodOct. 4
WixomOct. 5
SanfordOct. 6
As things currently stand, after Sept. 25, the Edenville Dam and Wixom Lake will no longer be under FERC jurisdiction, so FERC would not enforce the Oct. 5 refill date.

Boyce has filed an Emergency Appeal with FERC to “stay” (halt) the license revocation order currently due to take effect Sept. 25. Boyce also advised FERC that Boyce has filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit. The Wixom Lake Association, Sanford Lake Association, Sanford Lake Preservation Association and Gladwin County Commissioners have filed a separate Emergency Appeal with FERC to stay the revocation order for 180 days. The Lake Association and Gladwin County appeal has already been supported by Michigan Senator Jim Stamas and Mark Bone, Chairman of the Midland County Board of Commissioners. If one or more of these appeals is successful, FERC will continue to have jurisdiction over the Edenville Dam and Wixom Lake water levels after Sept. 25. All appellants have requested action on their appeals before Sept. 25.

The situation now faced by the Wixom Lake community was anticipated 7 months ago, when FERC issued an Order Proposing Revocation of License at Edenville. That’s when the Lake Associations began work to get a Michigan lake level order issued for Wixom Lake to keep water levels where they have historically been. A FERC license takes priority over a Michigan lake level order, so the lake level order is insurance in case the license is lost. The 180 day stay requested by the Lake Associations and Gladwin County is intended to allow enough time to finalize the process of issuing a lake level order and negotiating a change in ownership of the Boyce dams. Whether we are successful with our appeal or not, we will continue working on the lake level order.

If you know people who own property on Wixom Lake and don’t belong to Wixom Lake Association (WLA), please encourage them to join. WLA has lately been paying legal fees related to the license revocation. We need members and their dues to continue our work. People can find membership materials on our website:


Oct. 12, 2018:  As you know, Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes (the “Lakes”) were drawn down for FERC-mandated spillway inspections. FERC is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which licenses and regulates hydroelectric dams in the USA. The drawdowns ranged from roughly one foot at Secord Lake to nearly five feet at Wixom Lake. During the drawdown process, FERC finalized the revocation of the Edenville hydropower license, and inspected the spillway structures on Sanford, Smallwood and Secord dams. Now that the inspections are complete, we are expecting at least some of the lakes will refill to normal summer levels. The rainy October we are experiencing will help that refilling process.

As we watch the lakes refill, do not be surprised if Wixom Lake does not refill like the other three lakes. The water levels of Sanford, Smallwood and Secord Lakes are specified by the FERC licenses in effect on those lakes. The water level in Wixom Lake was specified in its FERC license, but that license was revoked September 25, 2018. There are appeals and rehearing requests in progress in an effort to reverse the revocation. However, there is no current Federal or State regulation specifying the water level in Wixom Lake. This means that, for now, the Wixom Lake water level will be controlled where the Edenville Dam owner chooses and the DEQ and DNR permit. The Wixom Lake water level may return to historic “normal” levels, but it is more likely to remain at the current lower level or be taken down even further until a State lake level order is issued. Unfortunately, a few Wixom Lake property owners didn’t get their boats and lifts out of the water before the drawdowns began. We hope they are able to get help from lake service companies or someone else to remove their equipment before winter.

Wixom Lake Association has representatives on the Four Lakes Task Force, which is working to enact Michigan Part 307 Lake Level Orders (LLO) for all the Lakes. That work began in February, 2018 when the Edenville Dam license was first threatened with revocation. If we are successful in getting an LLO for Wixom Lake, the order will specify a lake level very similar to the level specified in the FERC license and Wixom Lake will return to the levels we all want to see.
Hundreds of Michigan lakes are controlled by LLO’s and have been for decades. A Michigan Part 307 Lake Level Order is issued by a Michigan County Circuit Court following a lot of hard work to meet documentation requirements for issuing such an order. The work is underway by the Four Lakes Task Force, and requires engineers and attorneys, who both charge fees. They expect to bring the case to a Circuit Court late in 2018. If we are successful, there will be LLO’s for Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord Lakes before the spring runoff of 2019. In the meantime, we urge the Wixom Lake community to do two things:

  • 1.Be patient and know people are working hard to preserve Wixom Lake.
  • 2.Join Wixom Lake Association and encourage everyone who cares about Wixom Lake to do the same. Membership dues and donations help us fund the work that is ahead of us. If you wish, you may donate additional money to our effort. Wixom Lake Association is a 501(c) (3) corporation, so donations and membership dues may be deductible on your Federal income taxes. You may apply for membership here: