Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
The lake level debate at Higgins Lake
Published on August 7, 2012 By Draginol In Politics

Sometimes the local politics of Higgins Lake Michigan can be very frustrating.  The latest example has to be the "save the dam" advocates.

Briefly, MSU in cooperation with the DNR are conducting a study of the effect the dam has on Higgins Lake. The dam is used to help control the lake water level.

Many decades ago, a dam was put on the lake to keep the water level high enough to use the lake effectively for for boats. As more people bought cottages on the lake, the demand to raise the water level ever higher grew.

The issue came to a head some years ago when the water level got so high that huge swaths of the shore, complete with their trees, began falling into the lake. Many people began to build sea walls or fortified their shorelines with stones which resulted in the erosion problem being exacerbated for everyone else.

To put things in perspective, our family has been on the lake for decades. We've lost nearly 40 feet of beach since the 1940s. Moreover, the erosion of the sea shore resulted in a massive increase in the amount of organic matter in the lake which caused an explosion in the number of snails in the lake which in turn helped bring "Swimmer's Itch" to the lake for the first time in its history.

As a result of all the erosion and the corresponding hassles it entails, people have begun to ask "what should the water level be?" One of the local foundations raised sufficient funds to get that question answered scientifically -- the creation of a study. The study will take a couple years to complete.

However, the study is violently opposed by those who fear that this will lead to the loss of the dam and convenient (for them) access to their boats. No one has actually seriously proposed getting rid of the dam. Personally, I do not want to see the dam go.  I boat on this lake as well and if the water level was significantly lower than it is today, it would be quite a hassle to navigate the lake.

The problem is, no one really knows what lower lake levels would do. We can only speculate. Hence, the study: The study is the result of years of squabbling by the residents up there as to what the lake level should be kept at.  Now, at least, there would be a study that outlines what the consequences of different water levels would be.

What's funny about this, at least from an "outsider", "city-slicker", point of view, is that those who are so up in arms about this are ultimately concerned about the ease of getting their boats out into the lake and having to be more careful in navigating certain areas. They don't seem to be aware that the north east shore of the lake is disappearing (high water + winds from the south west year after year).  It's enough to make someone want to yell "Lazy hicks!" at those who put their convenience over someone else's property.

Every time I've seen this issue debated, it ultimately boils down to convenience -- for them. Never mind that other people are seeing their shores, trees, decks, porches, washed away or that all the organic material being washed into the lake is damaging the lake quality. No, it's about their bloody pontoon boats.

I don't have an opinion on what the lake level should be. If I were the weather god, I'd prefer much lower winter and spring levels and keep the current summer levels.  It's the Spring storms that are destroying us.

I do know, however, that if one party is losing their trees and patios to the enriching water caused by an artificially high lake level and the other party just doesn't want to have to buy another 8 foot dock section or have to pay attention to rocks which party's concerns are valid and which party's concerns are unreasonable imo.

 


Comments
on Aug 08, 2012

Question:  How big is this lake?

on Aug 09, 2012

OK wow... here is a petition...

We don't want to find out what the non-biased, ecological solution is to the problem.

We want the study to show how we will keep the dam, and also have some representation from biased residents.

 

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/opposing-the-removal-of-the-higgins-lake/

on Aug 10, 2012

Yep, the study doesn't go over whether the dam should be kept or not. It is designed to find out the effect of different water levels has on the lake.

With that information, the residents can have a better idea of what the best lake level should be.

on Aug 13, 2012

Level 60.  Obviously, the higher the level, the better it will be at killing orcs.

on Aug 14, 2012

Jythier:  You have problems with them also. . .

on Jun 20, 2013

It seems you may be the uninformed city slicker! To start, the legal natural level of the lake was established in 1926 after logging operations had ceased and the court determined what the "natural level" of the lake was prior to enlarging and dredging the cut river. The Study funded by DNR and HLF is titled "the Ecological and Hydrologic effect of the removal of the water control structure on Higgins Lake". (Dam)The DNR has a stated mission to remove all Dams in the Michigan, Higgins was considered to be "High hanging fruit", until the invitation for the study. Since the water control structure "improvement" in 2008 and a DEQ mandated expansion of the constant spill way by 60% from it's size since 1958, combined with the additional 3" Winter draw down (9" below normal level) has created water levels that rarely reach "normal level" and created issues with access at both State Parks and the Garish Marina, as well as road ends, which require dredging. The lower water levels also create earlier temperature increases which speeds the snails reproductive cycle (more swimmers itch earlier). Lower levels stimulate weed growth and more shore line vegetation, a more attractive environment for water fowl (the other half of the swimmers itch equation). The science in regard to bottom mapping and flow rates will be great, the water quality data will be useless as it will be taken both years with the lake below it's normal level. 

In closing, When the State gives money for a study you better pay attention to the title of it, as that is their goal. Most of the "lazy Hicks" that reside in the vacation homes around the lake came from the City, which is where I would suggest you stay, or pontificate on a subject you may actually know something about! The group of "lazy hicks" that started the Save the Lake awareness campaign, consists of engineers, attorneys, biologists and most have decades at Higgins and have witnessed the bad ecological effects of the lower water levels since 2008. The State has pulled funding for many projects to work on the Dam system in the great lakes as they are low. Here we are at Higgins flushing water down the river, it makes no sense. 

on Jun 20, 2013

Lazyhick

It seems you may be the uninformed city slicker! To start, the legal natural level of the lake was established in 1926 after logging operations had ceased and the court determined what the "natural level" of the lake was prior to enlarging and dredging the cut river.

Don't use the words "natural level" when discussing a dam. Natural level would be whatever the level is without human intervention.

The Study funded by DNR and HLF is titled "the Ecological and Hydrologic effect of the removal of the water control structure on Higgins Lake". (Dam)The DNR has a stated mission to remove all Dams in the Michigan, Higgins was considered to be "High hanging fruit", until the invitation for the study. Since the water control structure "improvement" in 2008 and a DEQ mandated expansion of the constant spill way by 60% from it's size since 1958, combined with the additional 3" Winter draw down (9" below normal level) has created water levels that rarely reach "normal level" and created issues with access at both State Parks and the Garish Marina, as well as road ends, which require dredging.

So your argument thus far is that slightly lowering the water level makes getting to your boat slightly less convenient.

So on the one hand, we have an artificially high water level, maintained by a dam, that is eroding the shoreline, causing people to lose their beaches, trees, and property and on the other side...it's harder to get to your boat.

The lower water levels also create earliertemperature increases which speeds the snails reproductive cycle (more swimmers itch earlier). Lower levels stimulate weed growth and more shore line vegetation, a more attractive environment for water fowl (the other half of the swimmers itch equation). The science in regard to bottom mapping and flow rates will be great, the water quality data will be useless as it will be taken both years with the lake below it's normal level.

This is a mind boggling ignorant statement to make.

Do you understand that "raising the lake level" is a measurement taken at a single point at the lake? Because it appears you don't understand that.

When you "Raise the lake level", water...being water, doesn't simply rise vertically in place. It increases the volume of water in the lake. The lake isn't a pool. The shores are gradual slopes. When you increase the lake level, the water simply creeps up those slopes.  Higher water levels, in a lake, increase the surface area. 

The reason we have so many weeds, snails, and the rest is because the water has creeped up onto land that formerly were grasslands and forests.  That's why there are stumps out 100+ feet in the water. The water "level" increased the area of the lake to cover land with plants, beaches, and trees.

Raising or lowering the lake level (as measured from the dam) won't change whether the shore is shallow or deep overall.  For some residents, lower water levels will mean deeper water near their shore and for others it'll mean shallower.  

For me, raising the water level (as measured at the dam) means a shallower off shore experience because the water will simply move further up what was once beech and woodlands.

In closing, When the State gives money for a study you better pay attention to the title of it, as that is their goal.

Their goal being to see what would happen without the dam? Ok.

Most of the "lazy Hicks" that reside in the vacation homes around the lake came from the City, which is where I would suggest you stay, or pontificate on a subject you may actually know something about!

Well, the post states that lazy hicks (that being you apparently) oppose the study because they fear that it'll result with the dam being removed because it'll lower water levels which, according to you will result in harder access to boats (which the original article mentioned) and what the main argument of the post was.  That is, you oppose the study because you put your personal convenience (Getting to your pontoon boat) above the ecology of the lake or the integrity of other people's property.

You also added a false claim that lowering the level would result in more plants being in the water (which requires the reader to assume a lake is like a pool where raising "the water level at the dam" results in a vertical raising of the water in proportion to shore.

The group of "lazy hicks" that started the Save the Lake awareness campaign, consists of engineers, attorneys, biologists and most have decades at Higgins and have witnessed the bad ecological effects of the lower water levels since 2008. The State has pulled funding for many projects to work on the Dam system in the great lakes as they are low. Here we are at Higgins flushing water down the river, it makes no sense. 

I doubt an engineer would suggest that lowering the lake water level at the dam would result in shallower water by lake shores.

I also doubt a biologist would describe water leaving a lake via a river to be "flushing water down the river"

Studying what the effects of dam removal (and thus lower water levels) doesn't hurt anyone. If you have a legitimate reason (one that doesn't involve waddling a bit further to your boat) to oppose lower water levels then put those forward. 

 

 


on Oct 22, 2014

Frogboy


Quoting Lazyhick,

It seems you may be the uninformed city slicker! To start, the legal natural level of the lake was established in 1926 after logging operations had ceased and the court determined what the "natural level" of the lake was prior to enlarging and dredging the cut river.




Don't use the words "natural level" when discussing a dam. Natural level would be whatever the level is without human intervention.
It is not a dam it is a "lake level control structure"  LLCS, the difference being a dam holds water at a unnatural level, a LLCS helps control the natural legal level.

The Study funded by DNR and HLF is titled "the Ecological and Hydrologic effect of the removal of the water control structure on Higgins Lake". (Dam)The DNR has a stated mission to remove all Dams in the Michigan, Higgins was considered to be "High hanging fruit", until the invitation for the study. Since the water control structure "improvement" in 2008 and a DEQ mandated expansion of the constant spill way by 60% from it's size since 1958, combined with the additional 3" Winter draw down (9" below normal level) has created water levels that rarely reach "normal level" and created issues with access at both State Parks and the Garish Marina, as well as road ends, which require dredging.




So your argument thus far is that slightly lowering the water level makes getting to your boat slightly less convenient.

No, it is that lowering the level has had more negative effects on the lake than positive. 

So on the one hand, we have an artificially high water level, maintained by a dam, that is eroding the shoreline, causing people to lose their beaches, trees, and property and on the other side...it's harder to get to your boat.

and it's growing weeds near shore and in the water where there were none.

The level has been at or near legal natural level since 1926. The levels since modification of the LLCS 2007 have been lower than the preceeding 81 years.


The lower water levels also create earliertemperature increases which speeds the snails reproductive cycle (more swimmers itch earlier). Lower levels stimulate weed growth and more shore line vegetation, a more attractive environment for water fowl (the other half of the swimmers itch equation). The science in regard to bottom mapping and flow rates will be great, the water quality data will be useless as it will be taken both years with the lake below it's normal level.



This is a mind boggling ignorant statement to make.

As is yours. though your position leads me to believe your mind may be easily "boggled"

 



Do you understand that "raising the lake level" is a measurement taken at a single point at the lake? Because it appears you don't understand that. 

Lets move the gauge by you, close the gates and ignore it. After all if the water goes up it's shallower at your house.

I do indeed, a gauge at the south park wall. though year over year wave and tidal variations would become a constant and provide a USGS chart that you can view on their web site

When you "Raise the lake level", water...being water, doesn't simply rise vertically in place. It increases the volume of water in the lake. The lake isn't a pool. The shores are gradual slopes. When you increase the lake level, the water simply creeps up those slopes.  Higher water levels, in a lake, increase the surface area

.Yes, to the size it was build around, based on oldest survey 1848 current legal level puts it within 1% of that size.

no kidding, and lowering them reduces hydraulic pressure, which holds back septic and other nutrient loading which would be held away from the lake, as opposed to leaching toward it.

The reason we have so many weeds, snails, and the rest is because the water has creeped up onto land that formerly were grasslands and forests.  That's why there are stumps out 100+ feet in the water. The water "level" increased the area of the lake to cover land with plants, beaches, and trees. 

or was it the glaciers that formed it?

Are we talking in the millions of years, or since man has accessed the lake?

Those are left over from when the lake was used for logging, which was also when the river was dredged and the 1st actual "dam" used to rise level and then be released to float logs down to the mills in Muskegon.

Raising or lowering the lake level (as measured from the dam) won't change whether the shore is shallow or deep overall.  For some residents, lower water levels will mean deeper water near their shore and for others it'll mean shallower.

 Then it shouldn't matter to you.

For me, raising the water level (as measured at the dam) means a shallower off shore experience because the water will simply move further up what was once beech and woodlands. B.S.






In closing, When the State gives money for a study you better pay attention to the title of it, as that is their goal.




Their goal being to see what would happen without the dam? Ok.

Nope the goal is to remove it. and if that were to happen we would never get it back. I don't believe it will be removed as it is an LLCS and not a dam. they will face 75% of the riparians that to keep it, and the levels the way they have been since 1926 or 1848.




Most of the "lazy Hicks" that reside in the vacation homes around the lake came from the City, which is where I would suggest you stay, or pontificate on a subject you may actually know something about!




Well, the post states that lazy hicks (that being you apparently) oppose the study because they fear that it'll result with the dam being removed because it'll lower water levels which, according to you will result in harder access to boats (which the original article mentioned) and what the main argument of the post was.  That is, you oppose the study because you put your personal convenience (Getting to your pontoon boat) above the ecology of the lake or the integrity of other people's property.

You also added a false claim that lowering the level would result in more plants being in the water (which requires the reader to assume a lake is like a pool where raising "the water level at the dam" results in a vertical raising of the water in proportion to shore.




The group of "lazy hicks" that started the Save the Lake awareness campaign, consists of engineers, attorneys, biologists and most have decades at Higgins and have witnessed the bad ecological effects of the lower water levels since 2008. The State has pulled funding for many projects to work on the Dam system in the great lakes as they are low. Here we are at Higgins flushing water down the river, it makes no sense. 



I doubt an engineer would suggest that lowering the lake water level at the dam would result in shallower water by lake shores.

I also doubt a biologist would describe water leaving a lake via a river to be "flushing water down the river"

Yet they have.

Studying what the effects of dam removal (and thus lower water levels) doesn't hurt anyone. If you have a legitimate reason (one that doesn't involve waddling a bit further to your boat) to oppose lower water levels then put those forward. 

I have, and you don't care, you want the water lower to serve your interest and the majority be dammed! You get what you pay for and a paid for study entitled "effects of the removal of the water control structure at Higgins Lake" will provide you more ammo to waste time and money fighting your manufactured issue. We could be working on Swimmers itch, or any number of tasks.

Time will tell.

 

 



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