Rising waters threaten homes along Crooked Lake

Barry County

PRAIRIEVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some lakes in Barry County are rising, causing headaches for dozens of homeowners who live along them.

The problem is especially bad at Upper Crooked Lake and Lower Crooked Lake near Delton.

Pumps and nearly 1,100 sandbags are all that separate Sharon and Bob Ritchie’s home from a wall of water. They have lived on Upper Crooked Lake for 22 years and say they have never seen such serious flooding.

“As long as these pumps keep running, we’re doing good,” Bob Ritchie said. “Because it’s holding it back, but if these pumps stopped working, it starts floating up (to the house).”

They have no plan B if the waters keep rising.

The Ritchies say the primary culprit is a 24-inch culvert that’s allowing water to flow from nearby lakes into Upper Crooked Lake. That water flows into Lower Crooked Lake, which has no outlet or drain.

“The water has come up higher that we’re all in danger of having cracked foundations for our homes so that’s why we need help soon,” Sharon Ritchie said. “This is our retirement dream home, where we’d like to be. Now it’s not quite a dream.”
In January, lake levels there were four feet over where they’re supposed to be in the summer and they continue to rise, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull told 24 Hour News 8.

“We’ve had six inches of rain in May alone,” he explained. “That just keeps adding to it. We also have the Delton village drain that puts water in there, all the Delton road drains are there. And also the Watson drain that comes from Pleasant Lake through Mud Lake through Glass View Lake goes in there, too.”

There is no quick fix to the problem.

“You have permitting issues, you have property easement issues, you have cost issues,” Dull said. “All that has to go into it.”

Dull said his engineer is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources to come up with several short-term and long-term solutions to the problem. They plan to meet June 20 after reviewing some options.

“Everybody is working any and every angle we can to get this solved,” Dull said.

But none of them are easy or fast.

“We did look at pumping down the lake,” Dull said. “We figured out if we put two 8-inch pumps in running 24 hours, seven days a week, we could take the water down one foot in 30 days, assuming there’s no more water coming. And also we have to find a place to put the water, and we don’t have a place because everything else is flooded.”

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