Longtime Barron Lake resident Dale Lowe said he has twice the beachfront as normal this year due to receding water levels. Under normal conditions, the water level would be up to the post. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

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Expert studying low water levels on Barron Lake

Published 9:00am Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Barron Lake Association has commissioned a groundwater expert from Michigan State University to determine why the water level on the lake is so low this year.

Bruno Eidietis, lake association president, said the water level was 754.15 feet above sea level Wednesday night, almost 2 1/2 feet below its optimal level.

While there are several theories going around, Eidietis said no one is certain why the lake level is receding or what, if anything, lake residents can do about.

That’s why they hired Shu-guang Li, an engineering professor at MSU. Eidietis said they contacted him several months ago.

“Hopefully in next 60 days or so, we’ll have some factual information from Dr. Li and then we can go from there,” Eidietis said.

The answer might be as simple as the lack of rainfall this year. The lake also loses between a quarter-inch to a half-inch of water a day to evaporation during the summer months, depending on how hot or windy it is.

Several years ago, the association placed into the lake a well-designed to pump water up from an underground source. It pumped about 1,000 gallons per minute when it was first put in.

Well custodian and longtime Barron Lake resident Dale Lowe said while the well isn’t pumping as much as it used to — around 960 gallons per minute — it is still in good working order.

“It’s just not pumping enough to keep up with nature,” he said. “Evaporation is greater than what the pump brings in.”

Lowe, who has lived on Breezy Beach Drive for almost 50 years, said he has twice as much beachfront this year due to the receding water level.

He’s not too concerned about it though.

“If we get a good winter and the moisture fills the groundwater back up, it will boost the lake level up as well,” he said.

Eidietis said it isn’t unusual to see the water level fluctuate from year to year.

In September 2003, he said the level got down to 753.6 feet. In spring 2009, it rose to over 757 feet.

The goal, he said, is to keep it from getting too high or too low, like it is this year.

“There are no answers now and it’s not a drastic or desperate situation — it’s not like the lake is disappearing,” he said. “It’s just we are getting more fluctuation than we’d like.”

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