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Two state agencies sue the company that polluted the Kalamazoo River with sediment

A view of Morrow Lake with a log and duckweed in the foreground and the glassy modern dam in the background.
Sehvilla Mann
The Morrow Dam as seen across Morrow Lake in November 2021.

The Michigan attorney general’s office has filed a lawsuit against the operators of the Morrow Dam in Comstock Township. The suit claims that STS Hydropower, and its parent company Eagle Creek, owe damages for flooding the Kalamazoo River with sediment during a drawn-out dam repair.

The AG’s office filed a complaint in Ingham County Circuit Court yesterday on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

EGLE alleges that hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of silt flowed out of Morrow Lake between late 2019 and early 2021.

“Our preference is to work cooperatively to ensure prompt and effective cleanups and ensure the environment and the public are protected,” EGLE spokesman Scott Dean told WMUK. “But in this case the responsible party has not fulfilled their obligations to the law and to the community.”

According to EGLE, STS Hydropower abandoned talks about dredging last fall. The lawsuit aims to force a cleanup.

“The company’s refusal to employ reliable forms of management for the drawdown, to properly mitigate damage to the river has created significant avoidable harms,” Dean said.

The lawsuit says the sediment has buried critical habitat for mussels, turtles, fish and other animals. It also says one man had to be rescued after getting stuck in the silt, and there are reports of deer getting mired as well.

In a statement, the company said it took some steps to prevent pollution.

“At the direction of the State agencies, STS reduced the depth of the drawdown,” STS Hydropower said. “We also released water at a reduced rate. These are recognized steps in our industry to reduce a drawdown’s impact on sediment transfer and wildlife.”