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Michigan lake to be tested for contaminants after dam break

PAW PAW, Mich. (AP) — A lake in southwest Michigan will be tested weekly for contamination following a dam breach.

A 113-year-old dam near Briggs Pond and Maple Lake broke Oct. 15 because of heavy rain, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported .

Maple Lake is used for fishing, boating and other recreational activities. Briggs Pond was created in 1904 when a dam was constructed on a branch of the Paw Paw River for a hydroelectric power plant. Sediment has been accumulating in the basin ever since.

Previous tests of Briggs Pond found that its sediment is highly contaminated with arsenic and other harmful materials. Department of Environmental Quality officials say it's unclear how much sediment was transported from the pond into the lake and what contaminants are present.

The department will take weekly water samples and analyze them for arsenic, water quality and total suspended solids.

"Once we receive, analyze and interpret this data I can provide an update on what the results of the testing mean in regards to any concern over public health and environmental risks," said Derek Haroldson, an environmental quality analyst with the department.

Paw Paw's Village Council on Monday approved a more than $225,000 contract with Lounsbury Excavating to rebuild the dam and construct an emergency spillway.

The solution is affordable and is both a short-term and permanent fix, said Village Manager Sarah Moyer-Cale

Once the department approves the work permit, construction is expected to take about a month, Moyer-Cale said.

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