PAW PAW, MI — A 113-year-old dam separating Briggs Pond and Maple Lake in Paw Paw was breached after weekend storms brought more than six inches of rain to Southwest Michigan.
Spectators gathered at the dam Sunday, watching the fast moving current carry sediment and hundreds of gallons of water through the 20-foot-wide hole. Some Paw Paw residents expressed concern that the dam breach will spill contaminated sediment into surrounding bodies of water.
Village President Roman Plaszczak said there is no threat to property or residents. Heavy rain from the storms caused a section of the dam to crumble under the weight of the pond around 5 a.m. Sunday.
Casey Sons, a Paw Paw resident who has become increasingly worried about the pollution of Briggs Pond, characterized the situation as dire. He wants the village to contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality due to the potential for contaminated sediment to be carried downstream.
Plaszczak said the village has a close relationship with the DEQ, but the state agency has not yet been contacted.
“We’ll be sure to talk to them to be sure that we don’t have any concerns,” he said. “We’re not aware of anything that is a danger to human health. DEQ closely monitors the situation and we also do testing too.”