Barry County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Yarger said Friday that the spillway leading to the hydroelectric plant in Irving Township was breached by the rising Thornapple River, but since they still have some control of the water, it is not classified as an emergency.
The spillway, about 100 feet south of the Irving Dam, has three large openings to carry water but recent rains lifted the river level over the spillway, spreading water into the neighborhood and eating away the earthen part of the spillway, Yarger said.
The department’s new RAVE mass alert emergency notification system was activated to let the 22 subscribers know of the situation. “It worked well. After we pushed the alert we got phone calls asking for more information.”
“It looks like it crested at the McKeown Bridge about midnight, and it crested in Middleville, too. At this time we don’t anticipate it getting any worse,” Yarger said. Years ago engineers told Yarger if the Irving Dam itself failed, it would likely not be an emergency because the uninhabited low lying area below it could handle it.