MBA releases Midland Flood Reduction Plan

The Midland Business Alliance and its Advisory Committee on Infrastructure’s initial plans for easing the flooding strain on the Tittabawassee River watershed is being shared with city, county, region and state officials following its release Nov. 2.

Called the Midland Flood Reduction Plan, the report outlines the first projects to begin when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its hydrologic/hydraulic modeling. To that end, Spicer Engineering has developed projects for the Sturgeon Creek, Snake Creek and Inman Drain areas to control flooding and ease water that backs up in creeks.

Hundreds of homes in the City of Midland suffered damage from the 2020 disaster.
The committee was formed in 2021 to prepare ongoing projects dealing with the legacy flooding challenges and the related sanitary sewer issues caused by significant rains and floods occurring in 1986, 1996, 2013, 2017 and 2020.
Lee Ann Keller
The Corps study is expected to be completed in 2024,” says Lee Ann Keller, co-chair of the advisory committee and president and CEO of Omni-Tech International on Ashman Street.  “While they (Corps of Engineering) are creating the complex and necessary flood modeling, we wanted to continue looking for solutions we could advance – and work to fund – in the meantime. We asked the engineers at the Spicer Group to look at areas that frequently experience flooding and offer ideas.”

Acknowledging that Mid-Michigan is no stranger to flooding, the purpose of these projects is to reduce the impact of river flooding and protect residents and businesses in Midland. 
 J.W. Fisher
“When the Tittabawassee River reaches high levels, it starts to push up into the creeks and causes extensive flooding. In a 100-year event, approximately 800 acres flood when the Tittabawassee River backs up into these creeks,” says J.W. Fisher, co-chair of the advisory committee and president of Fisher Contracting in MIdland. “The Spicer engineers have recommended solutions that are reasonably feasible to implement and can have a big impact on flood protection.” The comments by Fisher and Keller are published in the report

Spicer outlines its engineering designs, with an eye to addressing this flooding, by using a system of flood protection walls, berms, flood gates, and pump stations.

Included will be 
• Floodwalls/berms set to 0.3 feet below 100-year flood elevation 
• Homes/businesses protected from floodwater levels similar to the 2017 flood event 
• Level of design protects against the majority of recent flood events without reducing the current 100-year floodplain storage volume.
 • Flood gates sized to maintain outgoing stream flow of Sturgeon and Snake Creeks 
• When Tittabawassee floodwaters start to peak, flood gates close to prevent these waters from backing up into the creeks 
• Pump stations on both creeks then start to pump outgoing stream flows while flood gates are closed.

“The engineering concepts and planning-level cost estimates were developed so we can build consensus, identifyavenues for funding, and work through the permitting processes,” said Keller. “Fine tuning and finalization of the engineering specifications ultimately would rely on the hydrologic/hydraulic models the Corps of Engineers is developing currently.”

Since its inception, the advisory committee members have agreed on a series of “First Tasks” that will help Midland residents during significant rain events.
They include:

While future flooding cannot be eliminated completely, find and develop innovative, long-term options that can reduce the frequency and severity of flooding in the Midland area and build resilience
  • Focus on environment-based flood mitigation measures, such as wetlands, natural floodplains and conservation easements that could slow the flow rate of rivers, creeks and streams during significant rain events
  • Work with the City of Midland, Midland County and surrounding counties, area citizens, businesses and organizations, and other local, state and federal stakeholders to make lasting improvements
Flooding over the deck of the Currie Parkway Bridge, May 21, 2020
According to the report, no tax money is being used to support the  committee’s research, flood study and initial planning efforts, due to the support of the following businesses and foundations: Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, Corteva, Dow Company Foundation, Fisher Companies, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, Midland Area Community Foundation, MyMichigan Health, Patricia and David Kepler Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and Three Rivers Corp.

Visit for a wealth of information on the study, the Alliance, the committee, maps, project details, videos outlining the concerns and timelines.

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Read more articles by Ralph E. Wirtz.

Ralph E. Wirtz is a native Midlander who retired from the Midland Daily News as a managing editor in 2015. He has been freelancing since then in between traveling and volunteering. He has four adult children, all who graduated from Bullock Creek High School as he did. He is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Central Michigan University grad. He can be reached at