Update on Water Level – Fall 2020

To the members of the Six Mile Lake Association –

The Corp of Engineers is currently doing a study of the whole chain of lakes which I think is the largest watershed emptying into Grand Traverse Bay. Digital electronic measuring devices have been deployed and data has been and is being gathered. The data showed interesting patterns, Six Mile and St. Clair lakes respond more slowly to changes in the dam gates than do the lakes beyond us. This likely is due to a flow restriction in Ellsworth. There also appears to flow restrictions at Morhmaan Bridge and the exit from Intermediate lake into the Intermediate river. These restrictions slow the flow. There is a court order from 1990 requiring the level of Intermediate Lake be maintained at a certain level of elevation from April to November and at a lower elevation for the winter. For years, the dam was operated as if this were a minimum and sometimes maintained a much higher level. We worked out a new dam operating protocol which was helpful but still needs to be tweaked. This protocol is temporary one and we all hope the Corp will define a new proactive means of operating the dam. One problem we have is that in the fall the dam operator increases the level on weekends so the folks on the Intermediate River can get their boats out. That increase backs up all the way to here. We agreed the levels would lower  earlier in the year to prepare the lakes for fall rains and winter runoff, but given the rain we have had and not maintaining the lower level as a constant is a problem . Interestingly I have been told the county used to dredge the river and stopped, so this may have to be included in any package for a final solution. Right now, we believe that allowing the rise for navigation at the end of the season causes us further damage. We will be further evaluating our options in the spring.

Jeff Rogers

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