M-43 pumping expedited, road may open today
Swamp draining is underway in Barry County and M-43 is likely to open this week, county Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said.
That's sooner than what the Michigan Department of Transportation had reported last week -- but not as fast as Dull initially expected.
“We’ve got to get this thing rolling,” Dull said. “I still think July 4 is reasonable.”
That goal is good news for the more than 3,300 motorists who MDOT officials say typically use that section of M-43 west of Cloverdale Lake on a daily basis. The road has been closed since May.
A system was installed last week to remove water from the swamp west of M-43 and pump it into nearby Cloverdale Lake. Dull said the swamp is at a higher level than normal and pumping will not drain the swamp entirely, but it will bring it back down to its normal level.
“There won’t be any environmental impact,” he added.
Dull said an additional pump is pulling water from Cloverdale Lake and pushing it into Long Lake at a faster pace than the water naturally coming into Long Lake. The permit issued by the state department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (formerly DEQ) allows for water to be pumped out of the swamp and into Cloverdale Lake at a rate of 800 gallons a minute.
The permit also allows for water to be taken out of Cloverdale Lake and into Long Lake at 900 gallons a minute, resulting in 100 gallons coming off Cloverdale Lake and removing the floodwater covering M-43.
The plan has always been to bring the water from the swamp on the east to Cloverdale Lake on the west side of the road. But the solution took a while to implement, Dull said, because he was vehemently opposed to it until further planning figured out exactly how they could move the water from Cloverdale Lake. He was against the idea of just pumping more water into the lake without simultaneously removing water from that lake.
Cloverdale Lake is currently 20 inches above the highest point of the pipe regulating the water level of the lake and 30 inches above the lake's set low point.
Once M-43 is open, Dull’s plan is to scale back on pumping but to continue to move water from Cloverdale Lake into Long Lake.
The M-43 closing has created a problem for area motorists as they’ve been forced to find different routes when traveling through the highly-trafficked area. The closure has pushed motorists to take the designated detour around Cloverdale Lake utilizing Stevens, Miller, and Gilkey Lake roads. However, some drivers have opted to use Kingsbury Road instead of the designated routes.
The pumping also will provide relief to Wilkinson and Jones lakes which are “way too high,” according to Dull. Those lakes are directly connected to Cloverdale Lake and, as the Cloverdale Lake level begins going down, Wilkinson and Jones Lakes will go down as well, Dull says.
Dull also says the road commission and MDOT have been great to work with throughout the process.
“If we could get EGLE to work with us as well as everyone else has, we’d definitely have something,” Dull said.