The Path to Four Lakes Revival

The Path to Four Lakes Revival 

ICE® ZR Hammer Driving Hope Following Dam Failures 

Editor: Debbie Reaney 


Several lakes in mid-Michigan vanished after four dams on the Tittabawassee River faced catastrophic failures in May 2020. During severe flooding, the nearly 100-year-old Edenville Dam breached, causing floodwaters to quickly overflow the river. Other dams of four manufactured lakes connected to the river, including the Sanford Dam (the most downstream dam), buckled under the barrage of water. The dams were originally built for water level control for hydroelectric power generation. Secord Lake, Sanford Lake, Smallwood Lake, and Wixom Lake were completely washed out, and all that was left in their places was a plethora of debris including hundreds of ravaged boats and boat lifts. The Village of Sanford alone lost 25% of its housing to the flooding. 

Since then, Four Lakes Task Force, a nonprofit of career scientists, engineers, and volunteers in Gladwin and Midland counties, has been overseeing the restoration project for the series of failed dams. So far, Fisher Contracting has built a berm across the breach channel and thousands of debris points were removed, allowing the Tittabawassee River to flow once again. The work done as part of this stabilization project will be utilized during the restoration project which is forthcoming in the following years. Like the Edenville Dam Phase I Sister Wall and Phase II Tittabawassee stabilization projects, GEI Consultants is the engineer of Record, Spicer Group is acting as the Owner's Engineer and Fisher Contracting Company is performing the construction work. According to the board, the rebuilding and refilling process is two-thirds of the way complete, and all aspects of the project are staying on schedule. With the Secord and Smallwood dams expected to be fully restored by 2024 and the Sanford and Wixom dams by 2025, the lakes will make their return as lake residents continue to recover from the fateful events years ago. 

Fisher Contracting, a local professional heavy/highway civil contractor out since 1957, has been awarded multiple portions of this project, including the current construction of watertight enclosures for the dewatering processes on the job. In June 2023, for the first dam at Secord Lake, an ICE® 22VM Zero-Resonance Hammer was used to drive 50' (ft) steel sheet piles for a cofferdam downstream of the powerhouse in preparation for the low-level outlet work. This stabilization project aims at restoring the Sanford Dam, consisting of the spillway and embankment, to a stable condition and rerouting the river back to its original pre-flood course. In addition, this project will reduce further erosion of the banks near the spillway and prevent continued deterioration of the site. The Fisher crew said the ICE® 22VM did a spectacular job of installing the piles with minimal impact to the existing dam structures due to its light eccentric weights and high horsepower. Fisher Contracting is maintaining strong safety standards at Secord, Smallwood, and Edenville, while actively planning for the upcoming Sanford Dam project. Each site brings forth its unique set of challenges, ranging from allocating space for equipment and material staging to the distinct nature of work to be executed. 

A cofferdam for the same purpose was also completed at the Smallwood Lake dam restoration site simultaneously. The auxiliary spillway has taken form with the new sheet piles, and underwater divers have been assisting the pile drivers with ensuring a water-tight fit. For the second phase of this project at the Sanford Dam, Fisher will be utilizing two more 22VMs to drive sheets, which will then be driven to grade with an ICE® IP7 Hydraulic Impact Hammer.  

As of October 2023, the Sanford community has added eight new or rebuilt houses, new businesses, an electric vehicle charging station, and a pump track project. International Construction Equipment, Inc thanks Fisher Contracting for the opportunity to support the four affected lake communities in their imminent comeback. Congratulations to you and your team on the safe completion of the first phase of this monumental project.  


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Media Contact-    
Pollyanna Cunningham, MA, MBA    
Vice President Marketing, Brand and Media Relations  

Vice President IT and IT Comm 
ICE® - International Construction Equipment, Inc    
Office - 704-821-8200    
Email -   

Posted in Hydraulic Impact Hammers, Vibratory Pile Hammers. Tagged as Cofferdam, Flood protection, ICE 22VM Variable Moment Zero Resonance, IP7 Hydraulic Impact Hammer, MunicipalityInstall, Zero-Resonance Hammer.

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