Tittabawassee River

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Tittabawassee River
Tittabawassee River (Hay Township, MI).jpg
Looking north from M-61 in Hay Township
Saginaw River watershed
Relief map of USA Michigan.png
Red pog.svg
Mouth location within the state of Michigan
Physical characteristics
  location Edwards Township, Ogemaw County, Michigan
  coordinates 44°05′27″N84°18′49″W / 44.09085°N 84.31361°W / 44.09085; -84.31361 [1]
Saginaw River, Michigan
43°23′12″N83°57′58″W / 43.38669°N 83.96608°W / 43.38669; -83.96608
Length72 mi (116 km)
Basin size2,471 sq mi (6,400 km2)
  average2,055.61 cu ft/s (58.208 m3/s) (estimate) [2]

The Tittabawassee River ( /ˈtɪtəbəˈwɑːsi/ TIH-tə-bə-WAH-see) flows in a generally southeasterly direction through the Lower Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. The river begins at Secord Lake in Clement Township, at the confluence of the East Branch and the Middle Branch. [3] From there it flows through Gladwin, Midland and Saginaw counties where, as a major tributary of the Saginaw River, it flows into it at Saginaw. Its tributaries include the Chippewa, Pine, Molasses, Sugar, and Tobacco rivers.


Significant communities on or near the Tittabawassee River include Saginaw, Midland, and Sanford. At Edenville, the river was impounded by the hydroelectric Edenville Dam to create Wixom Lake. It was also impounded by a hydroelectric dam in Sanford to create Sanford Lake prior to the dam failures and resulting flooding on May 19, 2020. In Saginaw County, the river flows through Tittabawassee Township, which is named for the river and contains the unincorporated community of Freeland.

The main river is 72.4 miles (116.5 km) long [3] and drains an area of 2,471 square miles (6,400 km2). [4]


On May 19, 2020, the Edenville Dam failed, followed by the Sanford Dam downstream being overtopped and a dike breaking at Poseyville, resulting in major flooding in Midland County. [5] [6] [7] 10,000 people were evacuated including a seniors home and a few hospital patients. [8] [9] Two emergency shelters had to be relocated due to flooding and electrical power losses. Floodwater entered the Dow Chemical plant, forcing its shutdown and mixing with its containment ponds, leading to concern over pollution. [10] The next day, water levels were predicted to reach 38 feet: four feet higher than the flood of 1986. [11] National Guard units and a FEMA team were brought in to assist.

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">M-30 (Michigan highway)</span> State highway in Michigan, United States

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Sanford Lake was a man-made reservoir located in Midland County, Michigan, but is no longer present since the failure of the dam in May 2020. It was formed by the damming of the Tittabawassee River near the town of Sanford, Michigan. It was built for flood control and the production of hydroelectric power. The dam is owned and operated by The Four Lakes Task Force, a property owners' group that was established by the Midland and Gladwin County boards of commissioners to oversee the dams and the impoundment lakes created by them, who took over ownership as a condition of the settlement agreement that resulted from the condemnation proceedings with former dam owner, Boyce Hydro, LLC.

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The Saginaw River is a 22.4-mile-long (36.0 km) river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is formed by the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee rivers southwest of Saginaw. It flows northward into the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron, passing through the cities of Saginaw and Bay City, both of which developed around it in the 19th century. The watershed area is 8,595 square miles (22,260 km2). At its mouth, the river's estimated average discharge is 4,827 cubic feet per second (136.7 m3/s).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chippewa River (Michigan)</span> River in Michigan, United States

The Chippewa River is a stream in Michigan, United States, that runs 91.8 miles (147.7 km) through the central Lower Peninsula. The Chippewa is a tributary of the Tittabawassee River and is thus part of the Saginaw River drainage basin. The river is named after the Chippewa people.

The Tridge is the formal name of a three-way wooden footbridge spanning the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers in Chippewassee Park near downtown Midland, Michigan, in the Tri-Cities region. Named as a portmanteau of "tri" and "bridge", the structure opened in 1981. It consists of one 31-foot (9.4 m) tall central pillar supporting three spokes. Each spoke is 180 feet (55 m) long by 8 feet (2.4 m) wide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dam failure</span> Catastrophic failure of dam barrier by uncontrolled release of water

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Edenville Dam was an earthen embankment dam at the confluence of the Tittabawassee River and the Tobacco River in Mid Michigan, United States, forming Wixom Lake. The dam was about one mile (1.6 km) north of Edenville, mostly in the southeast corner of Tobacco Township in Gladwin County, with its southeastern end reaching into Edenville Township in Midland County. Its height was 54 feet (16 m), the length was 6,600 feet (2,000 m) at its crest.

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Wixom Lake was a reservoir in the U.S. state of Michigan from 1925 to 2020. It was named after Frank Wixom, who was instrumental in building the Edenville Dam. Unusual for its size, Wixom Lake boasts a lighthouse on Musselman Island. From 2019-2020, an agreement to buy the dam and reservoir by the Four Lakes Task Force, a "county-delegated authority" under the State of Michigan, from Boyce Hydro L.L.C. was in place, However, in May of 2020, the lake was destroyed when the earthen dam used to impound it overtopped and then collapsed. From 2018 to 2020, the impoundment was regulated by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).


  1. "Tittabawassee River". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Watershed Report: Tittabawassee River". WATERS GeoViewer. Archived from the original on July 5, 2021. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  3. 1 2 United States Geological Survey. "National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data". The National Map. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  4. "Tittabawassee River Assessment" (PDF). Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  5. Bryan, Whitney (May 19, 2020). "Residents told to evacuate immediately due to Edenville Dam failure, Sanford Dam expected failure". Saginaw, Michigan: WNEM-TV . Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  6. "Thousands evacuated as river dams break in central Michigan". Detroit Free Press. Associated Press. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  7. Jordan, Heather (May 20, 2020). "More Midland County residents ordered to evacuate after dike on Poseyville breaks". MLive. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  8. LeBlanc, Beth (May 20, 2020). "Whitmer seeks FEMA aid for Midland's widespread flooding". The Detroit News. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  9. Hunter, George & Donnelly, Francis X. (May 20, 2020). "Flood evacuees wait to learn extent of damage to homes". The Detroit News. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  10. Matheny, Keith (May 20, 2020). "Dow Chemical in Midland: Flood water mixed with our containment ponds". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  11. Schafer, Ashely (May 19, 2020). "Sanford Dam failure imminent; Midland residents evacuating". Midland Daily News. Retrieved May 20, 2020.