Effects of plan to stop lakes flooding debated

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

TEXAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Residents along two flooding lakes near Kalamazoo want the state to move forward with a pumping plan, but others downstream are worried about its effects.

Crooked and Eagles lakes in Texas Township, which have no outlet, have risen dramatically over the last year, threatening and flooding homes. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hosted a public meeting at Kalamazoo Valley Community College Monday night to discuss a permit to pump water out of the lakes. Hundreds of people attended.

“There’s a steady climb in the groundwater level to where some gauges are at their all-time high,” Derek Haroldson of the DEQ told the crown during the meeting.

The permit is still under consideration. If approved, it would allow water to be pumped from Eagle and Crooked lakes into wetlands and Bass Lake. One potential problem is whether the pumping could adversely affect habitats downstream that house endangered species.

“I’ve heard some talk about let’s save some trees,” one resident said during public comment. “I really don’t give a (expletive) about any trees.”

“We’ve already taken up at least an expense of 40 grand,” another woman said. “We were told by a realtor our house values at $220,000 and we can’t even sell it for a $100,000 right now.”

But opponents who live downstream say they will suffer additional flooding, invasive species and the loss of endangered species.

“I would hope that those of us who value property rights would understand that the downstream affects must also be mitigated,” a permit opponent told the crowd. “…The taking of one party’s property in order to mitigate the negative effects of another is not the way we do things here.”

Regardless of the outcome, the final decision may become a win-lose proposition.

“If the permit is denied, then our property will be protected, while Crooked and Eagle Lake residents will continue to suffer,” said one woman who opposes the permit. “If the permit is approved, then the natural beauty of Bass Lake, the wetlands, as well as our personal property will be destroyed.”

The next step in the process is a 10-day comment period, which starts Tuesday. 

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