Wixom Lake issue heading to court soon, public meetings underway

Published: Feb. 20, 2019 at 4:55 PM EST
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(02/20/19) - Will Wixom Lake be ready for summer fun? People who live along the lake in Midland and Gladwin counties have been worried about it since last fall.

Wixom Lake, as well as Secord, Smallwood and Sanford lakes were lowered to allow for federal inspections of the operating dams.

Before the inspections took place the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revoked the license on Wixom Lake's Edenville Dam. As a result dam owner Boyce Hydro did not raise Wixom Lake back up to the previous level. The other lakes were brought back up.

Now, the Four Lakes Task Force, made up of people from all four lakes, is working to find a long term solution to keep the lakes enjoyable year-round.

"So right now beyond just getting the hearings done we're going through all the engineering, we're going through what's required under the state laws for all these lakes," said Four Lakes Task Force Chairman Dave Kepler.

The task force is working with Gladwin and Midland counties to establish state-mandated lake levels to help with the issue on Wixom Lake. Part 307 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act could allow for the levels to be mandated.

For now Smallwood, Secord and Sanford lakes are still covered by federal rules as their dams continue to generate power.

"All the lakes have the same issue, it's just that Wixom has hit this first. And so that's our goal is to get it done at one time so we won't have this issue for other lakes," Kepler said.

Public meetings about what's unfolding started Tuesday night ahead of an April court date. "We're getting input from the community today to inform us on how we would make the recommendation to the Circuit Court," Kepler said.

Paying for what's necessary to get the lake back up, including repairs to the privately owned dams, could cost $20 million.

As a result the task force and counties are looking at a Special Assessment District, as well as seeking grant funding.

Early estimates put the cost at an average of $350 a year for the roughly 8,000 people who live around the four lakes.

"This March and April time is a little bit of uncertainty here but we're confident once we get through this process that we will have a path forward to bring clarity to the lakes being upgraded," Kepler said.

There are several public meetings planned. You can find the complete schedule as well as much more information about the complicated process on the Four Lakes Task Force website and Facebook page. Click on the 'Related Links' with this story to find them.

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