MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure Introduces Initial Midland Flood Reduction Plan

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues the hydraulic/hydrologic study of the Tittabawassee River Watershed, the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure wants to get a head start on flood reduction and resiliency projects.

“The Corps of Engineers study is expected to be completed in 2024,” said Lee Ann Keller, co-chair of the advisory committee. “While they 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.”

Spicer Group engineers focused on Sturgeon Creek, Snake Creek and the Inman Drain areas in Midland.

“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,” said J.W. Fisher, co-chair of the advisory committee. “The Spicer engineers have recommended solutions that are reasonably feasible to implement and can have a big impact on flood protection.”

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

The Spicer Group recommendations, called the “Midland Flood Reduction Plan,” include a system of flood protection walls, berms, flood gates and pump stations:

  • When Tittabawassee floodwaters start to peak, flood gates on the Sturgeon and Snake Creeks 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
  • Floodwalls/berms are set to 0.3 feet below the 100-year flood elevation
  • This level of design protects against the majority of recent flood events without reducing the current 100-year floodplain storage volume
  • An estimated 600 homes and 50 businesses – including the hospital area – would be protected from floodwater levels similar to the 2017 flood event

The MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure’s Midland Flood Reduction Plan is available at Here is a summary:

Sturgeon Creek Area

To prevent floodwaters from backing up Sturgeon Creek, this portion of the project would include the addition of flood gates at the mouth of Sturgeon Creek, upstream of Main Street. Open most of the time, the gates would be closed during high-water stages on the Tittabawassee River.

Modifications to the culverts crossing under Main Street would be required to connect to the flood gate system. A pump station would be located near the Main Street crossing to provide an outlet for stream flow when the flood gates are closed.

Rail Trail Area Floodwall

To prevent Tittabawassee River floodwaters from extending overland, a floodwall would extend northwest of Sturgeon Creek along the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. Made from steel sheet piling, the floodwall would extend from higher ground at University Avenue to the southeast past the mouth of Sturgeon Creek (a total distance of approximately 2,500 feet). The sheet piling would extend up to approximately 4 feet above the ground surface and be driven into the ground for sufficient stability. Ends of the floodwall would tie into adequately high features, such as the Main Street embankment. Because the elevation of Main Street south of the crossing is close to that required to protect from the floodwaters, its elevation would only need to be raised along approximately 800 feet of roadway.

Flood Reduction Berm

Flooding of Northwood University occurs due to direct overbank flooding from the Tittabawassee River. A series of surrounding berms would intercept this flow and prevent it from inundating this area. Approximately 3,500 feet of earthen berms, averaging 3 feet high, would be constructed on the east, south and west sides of campus and would terminate into adjacent high ground. The potential development of wetlands between these berms and the river would add to flood reduction efforts and create a natural area for students and the community.

Snake Creek Area

Flood gates would be located near Snake Creek’s crossing with Main Street. The pump station could be located in the northwest quadrant of the crossing.

In this area, Main Street is largely situated above flood level, except for a sag near Snake Creek. As a result, floodwalls are not included here. Instead, Main Street would be raised for approximately 400 feet. Reconstruction of the Orchard Drive/Emerson Park Road intersection would be necessary due to the change in grade of Main Street.

“These projects are an excellent starting point. However, they are not the only solution we will need for our region,” said Fisher. “They are part of a much bigger effort that could take decades to accomplish. Larger projects could include enhancing and expanding wetlands and building floodwater detention systems, for example. There are many ideas we are working with, and we welcome other solutions that people may have.”

“Throughout this planning, we have continued to brief local stakeholders as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE),” said Keller. “We are continuing to update an expanding circle of residents, businesses, organizations, and local, state and federal legislators. The advisory committee is also working to develop funding for this infrastructure improvement. This all takes time to coordinate.”

“We are presenting an update to the Midland County Board of Commissioners and the Midland City Council, and we have our first sit-down meeting with EGLE next week,” said Fisher. “We are excited about these first projects and we continue to press on.”


1. Two-page summary document of the “Midland Flood Reduction Plan”
Flood Reduction Plan

2. JPG: Overall Midland map with projects labeled (Map 1)

3. JPG: Map of the Sturgeon Creek area with projects labeled (Map 2)

4. JPG: Map of the Snake Creek area with projects labeled (Map 3)

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