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Pumps on Crooked, Cloverdale lakes off for now

Luke Froncheck

Staff Writer

Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull knew cold weather would come eventually and, with it, ice.

Under normal circumstances, ice wouldn’t create a big problem for lake residents. In fact, they might be looking forward to ice fishing.

But with water levels high countywide, circumstances are not normal.

Under a permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, pumping of Crooked and Cloverdale lakes can only occur when the lakes are less that 25 percent covered in ice and within certain lake level parameters.

“Ice was on, and we saw fishermen, so Brian [Cenci] said ‘Shut down,’” Dull said, referring to one of the lead engineers on the Watson Drain project. “The water is coming up, but we just can’t pump.”

When the ice melts, the pumps are ready to go, Dull added.

However, lake residents have reason to hope. Dull said, if EGLE staff approves an infrastructure permit for Cloverdale and Long lakes, they would be able to begin pumping north to Fall Creek in early summer.

Tuesday, the Barry County commissioners approved Dull's request to retain a licensed engineer to conduct a preliminary study of Cloverdale, Wilkinson, Jones and Mud lakes at a cost of $2,500.

The board also approved similar action for a preliminary study on Long Lake for $2,500. A third resolution, also approved by the board, will allow Dull to retain a licensed engineer to conduct a preliminary study of Pleasant and Mud lakes for a cost of $5,000.

The top priorities are the first two resolutions, Dull said, because of flooding concerns. These studies are the first step in a two-part process to determine actual lake levels.

When it comes to cost, the Cloverdale and Long Lake improvement costs will be shared by residents of those two lakes, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Watson Drain District. Because the long-term solution for Crooked Lake also provides a benefit to the residents of Cloverdale and Long lakes, they will help share in the costs for their portion of the payment.

In the meantime, Dull said the detention basin near Delton Road has been able to take in five times more water than they originally expected.

The cost of the Watson Drain project is expected to not exceed $4 million.

Dull said he has good data to the south regarding infiltration beds, but if that is the route they're forced to take, “it would really drive the cost up.”

EGLE staff is currently planning a public meeting regarding work on Cloverdale and Long lakes. Dull said they expect it to be at least six weeks before any meetings would be conducted.

A meeting has been scheduled regarding the Pine Lake project, beginning at 6 p.m. March 3. The public is welcome to attend the gathering in the Delton Kellogg Middle School gymnasium for an update on the project. Officials expected at that meeting include Allegan County Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar, Dull, Deputy Barry County Drain Commissioner Tammy Hayes, and representatives from LRE engineering firm.

Dull said the meeting was delayed because they wanted to complete surveying of the project. The first meeting was in the summer of 2019.

“There’s not much sense going into a meeting and not having anything to report,” Dull said.

LRE engineers have plotted a course to take the water to the Graytop drain in Allegan County. The project cost is estimated to be roughly $3 million.

Dull said he has seven petitions, which he said he and his team are “very actively” working on. There also are two more board of determination meetings coming up this week: one Friday and the other Saturday, which would bring the number of active petitions to nine.


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