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Van Buren County village being sued for violating NREPA, filling dam without permit

Breedsville Dam
Posted at 4:05 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 17:57:50-05

BREEDSVILLE, Mich. — A Van Buren County village is being sued by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) for violating the National Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA).

It all began back in 2008 when a breach in the Breedsville Dam on the South Branch Black River caused an uncontrolled release of impounded water.

The village is being sued due to many years of reportedly ignoring warnings from EGLE for improperly filling a regulated wetland area and riverbed.

The lawsuit is being filed by Attorney General Dana Nessel's office on behalf of EGLE.

Following the breach in the dam, EGLE said they told the village they would need a permit to reconstruct it.

In July of 2020, EGLE staff saw the village place fill in a portion of the river, but it had not been authorized.

The document from the attorney general's office said the village president was notified to stop, but the work continued without the permit.

In August 2020, the attorney general's office said the village received a violation notice and got no response.

Following an inspection of the area, EGLE staff found additional fill was placed into the water.

The soil was also found unstable. EGLE staff said it created steep slopes to the water's edge, and no permit for soil erosion and sedimentation control was found.

Last February, EGLE issued an enforcement notice for the prior violations. An additional violation for repairing or reconstructing a failed dam without a permit was given.

Another inspection found additional fill had been placed in wetlands, on bottomlands and within the 100-year floodplain.

The filed complaint through the attorney general's office requests that the court order Breedsville to pay a fine for past violations, remove the fill and restore the property to its condition before violations.

In a separate action, EGLE also issued a dam safety order requesting the village to remove the dam as it was reconstructed without proper engineering design, increasing its risk of failure.

FOX 17 reached out to the village of Breedsville for comment, and they referred us to their attorney. We also reached out to the attorney by phone and email and are waiting to hear back.