Plans to lower the Crooked Lake level to ease the flooding on homes on the lake were dealt a setback when a plan already approved by the DEQ was abandoned. Draining the lake waters directly into two area farmer’s irrigation systems, along with other measures, was seen as a viable way to lower the waters and help the beleaguered property owners.
Hours after receiving approval from the DEQ late last week, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull was told by the farmers that their crops had matured earlier than expected and if they accepted the water, it would ruin their crops.
“We were pretty devastated,” Dull said. “It took the wind out of our sails.”
But saying “It is what it is,” Dull and engineer Brian Cenci are, “back at it, chasing a solution.”
The flow out of Mud Lake was stopped in June and the M-43 culvert will be blocked to back that water into 330 acres of wetlands. Since Mud Lake’s level is low, they’re asking the Mud Lake Association if they can accept some of the Crooked Lake water, he said.
Dull said he has looked at several places to put the excess water, but they are too small. They are investigating another plan that is pending DEQ approval.
The county commission on June 16 authorized an emergency $500,000 loan to address the lake basin flooding and pay for the preliminary design of the Watson Drain project to be repaid to the drain district with the final bonding of the project.
The property owners who have complained to county commissioners for several weeks are still asking for help; Deb Englehardt, Sharon Ritchie, Cathy Mutchler and Cheryl Reda spoke Tuesday, saying the problem they have told about for weeks are as bad, or worse, than ever and they want a solution now. Adding to their present problems is the possibility that freezing may come before a solution is found and foundations would be damaged, causing even more problems, they said.
(left) Crooked Lake resident Deb Englehardt speaks about living with lake flooding at an earlier BarryCounty Commission meeting.