Pump on at Barron Lake

Published 9:42 pm Monday, January 2, 2006

By By NORMA LERNER / Cassopolis VIgilant
NILES - “It's a great Christmas present!” Barron Lake Association President Emery Hirschler exclaimed about flipping the switch Friday morning in Howard Township to start water pumping into Barron Lake.
The pumping is to raise the lake level to a legal limit that began in the petition stage four years ago, said Jeff VanBelle, Cass County drain commissioner. He was equally excited to see the complicated procedure begin on Friday.
The pump located on an easement at the end of Mannix Street on Barron Lake Road will pump the water up and through a large pipe that drains downhill to the lake.
The water runs across some rocks before entering the lake. They plan to run the pump all winter.
The lake has been three-feet, four inches below the legal lake level as of Nov. 30, said VanBelle.
The water pumping from a well 226 feet deep will fill the lake approximately one-fourth of an inch per day. He said it pumps 1,050 gallons of water per minute.
He said originally it would be delayed until after the ice leaves the lake and pumping would begin in the spring, but the ice is not a problem. It acts as a cover to prevent evaporation of the water.
VanBelle said engineers estimate it will take about a half a year for the lake level to come up to its established level of 756.5 feet. He said there should be some help from nature in the spring.
Lake residents are paying for the project through a special assessment cost of $300,000. This lowered lake level is a result of a lack of rain that feeds a marsh north of the lake where it draws water from the marsh.
This has caused the lake level to drop unusually low over the past few years and has left lakefront residences far removed from the water.