Big pump employed to cure water woes

Barry County

BARRY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Residents along a Barry County lake have spent the last several months having a lot more lake than they like.

The waters of Crooked Lake in Delton have been flooding basements, washing away roads and threatening homes. But starting Thursday evening, a massive pump has been carrying at least some of the water away.

For many Crooked Lake neighbors, this is what they’ve been wanting all along since the flooding began this spring. Just pump the water somewhere else.

But officials with the county and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality say it wasn’t that easy.

For Deb and Gary Englehardt, who have had their little home by the lake flooded for far too long, the sound of thousands of gallons of water being sucked out of the lake is music to their ears.

“I am absolutely thrilled, I have been over watching the water gush,” said Deb Englehardt  

For reasons still not completely clear, Crooked Lake has been overflowing its banks since the snow melted.

“Just a lot of factors that go into it,” said Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull. He said development, changes in drainage in other parts of the county and the building of roads are among the factors that impact the lake level. “One and one and one and one and suddenly you’re at 12 too many.”

Last month, the Barry County Commission approved $500,000 to fix the problem, part of which went to put in this diesel pumping system that is pouring some 6,000 gallons per minute from Crooked Lake under M-43 into the Glasby Lake wetlands that were dry because of the lack of rain.

“We’re hoping to get 12 inches back into the wetland and with a little luck that’ll take six inches off the lake and that’ll get it down so people can stop pumping off their yards,” Dull said.

This is no permanent solution, that will take a lot more time and study and more money.

“It’s just the beginning, we need to go beyond what we’re doing,” Engelhardt said.

One possible scenario is creating a 5-acre gravel pit that can absorb the water from a gravity drain, but first they have to find the drain. But for now, the lake is going down and the drain commissioner says he is grateful for the patience of residents.

“They’ve really kept an upbeat attitude,” Dull said. “You gotta hand it to them, they could be crying in their beer, but they’re just ‘hey, we know you’re working on it, we’re there for you, anything we can help.”

One of the main factors here is making sure that moving water from Crooked Lake does not cause issues elsewhere.

It’s a puzzle still a long way from being solved.

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