Surges on the Huron
by Ed Vielmetti
From the November, 2021 issue
A couple emerging from the new pedestrian tunnel near the Amtrak station on October 15 were surprised to see every gate on Argo Dam open and the pool below it so full of foaming water that it backed up into the murky mouth of Allen Creek. The automated U.S. Geological Survey gaging station in Riverside Park saw it, too: in less than an hour that afternoon, it recorded the water level falling by about a foot and a half then rising by more than three feet--a more than twentyfold surge in flow.
Brian Steglitz, the city's manager of water treatment services, emails that the rapid fluctuations were caused by a DTE power outage at the Barton Dam--ironic, considering that Barton is one of two city-owned dams that still generate electricity.
This time, Argo was just passing along the water released by Barton, but in 2019 an instrument failure caused the river to bounce between low- and high-water marks. In January 2011, a control system failure there led to several days of rapid oscillations. They ended only when divers ventured into frigid Argo Pond to replace a failed transducer.
[Originally published in November, 2021.]
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