M-43 open – finally
Pump failures delay draining of swamp
The section of the highway west of Cloverdale Lake, which typically serves more than 3,300 motorists daily, was open Tuesday.
The state trunkline highway was underwater for months until steps were taken to, literally, drain the swamp.
A pump was installed on Guernsey Lake Road and started pumping Friday, June 28.
But, by Sunday, the pump was dead.
“We talked to DeWind Dewatering and they said the design of that pump is, if it runs out of fuel, the electronics shut down and it doesn't drain the battery,” Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said. “The battery was dead on that. And the key was on. My thinking is somebody turned that off and turned the key back on.”
Dull contacted DeWind Monday, July 1, and representatives came back, looked at the pump, put a new battery in it, and it started right up.
Then “within two hours of that guy leaving,” Dull said, “the pump magically catches fire.”
“So, they ended up having to bring another pump down to replace it,” he said. “It burnt the wiring out of it. It burnt a little bit of the grass.”
Dull said officials don't know the cause of all these problems, but they've installed trail cameras around the equipment and haven't had any problems with the equipment since then.
With the pumping in progress, the water level on the west side of the road has dropped, he said. Pumping on the east side of the road likely will continue for another week or two to ensure it stays at an acceptable level.
The excess water from Cloverdale Lake is being pumped into Long Lake while officials are simultaneously draining the swamp into Cloverdale Lake. The key is to pump water out of Cloverdale Lake faster than they are putting water in, Dull said. Once the water is in Long Lake, it will then flow into Fall Creek and farther north through the connected chain of lakes.
The permit for the work was approved through the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
Although Dull had hoped the road would open much sooner, the original goal had been to have M-43 open before July 10, according to Michigan Department of Transportation representative Steve Wessels said. So, the goal was met.
“MDOT has been so good to work with,” Dull said. “All the players, what they did … It's way above and beyond.”