OK, we live on a lake and partying is a “given”. Like they say, “You don’t know how many friends you have until you buy a place on a lake“. But especially for those living on the Cuddy and Island Dr Channel, Labor Day Weekend should be “Party Weekend”!! Woohoo!! Round up your buddies, bribe them with awesome snacks, grilled food, and ice cold beverages – and GET THOSE DOCKS AND BOATS LIFTS OUT OF THE CHANNELS!! This is also a perfect time to Love Thy Neighbor and help them get their stuff out, too. Or perhaps thy neighbor can lure your buddies over with some fresh-baked cookies….LOL! It’s all good – we’re all in this boat together.
Today, the construction bids for the 3 stages of the Cuddy restoration/Patterson Bridge replacement/dredging were opened. While final approval lies with Dan Fredricks, Project Engineer, it looks like Milbocker & Sons will be doing the Allegan County drain improvements and bridge replacement. Nagel Construction will be awarded the Barry County work, which is mostly dredging (and includes the Island Drive channel).
Dan Fredricks did a great job of estimating costs, looking back on everything! The dredging costs came in below his estimate; but other upstream items came in a bit higher, so we’re still remarkably close to his overall cost estimates.
The next step in the process is the Day of Review/Apportionment done by each of the County Drain Commissioners. Barry residents will have to go to the Hastings office; Allegan residents to the Allegan office. It will be on June13th; and everyone will receive a letter with an explanation from their respective Drain Commissioner. Approx 10 days after that, each parcel will receive an “invoice” for their assessment, and they can choose to pay all; or have their assessment added to their property taxes over the course of 15 years. It was noted that the Gun Lake Improvement Board was going to pay $25,000 towards the Sedimentation Basin and Debris Barrier costs; so that will reduce everyone’s assessment by a bit (insert happy dance!). The various mailings will also include specific information as construction dates become more finalized – I truly feel that both Drain Commissioners are trying to be as helpful as possible for the people affected by this project!
A couple questions arose during the Public Comments that I’ll clarify: (1.) In the past, dredgers were hired that did not do a good job. This time, it will be different – Dan will oversee the dredging; and since he has both channels mapped using bathymetric scanning, he has the ability to know that the dredgers are indeed taking the channel back to its original shape and depths. (2.) At a later date (end of July-ish?) Dan, a representative from the dredging company, and a member or two of the Friends Of The Cuddy Drain, will cruise the channel and point out specific places where structures in the channels could impede the dredging. Those property owners will be notified of the problem. (3.) The dredging will take 1 to 2 months (it’s a mile of channel!), so the hope is that it will start as soon after Labor Day as possible.
In case anyone noticed that there were big injection tankers out in the fields just south of M-179? They were fertilizing those fields with Biosolids (AKA “sewage sludge” from the Middleville Wastewater Treatment Plant). This is actually good news! Biosolids have been treated to kill pathogens like e-coli; are injected about a foot underground (less likely to have runoff issues if it rains) – and the application program is heavily monitored by the DEQ. Farmers DO need to fertilize their crops – this is probably the most watershed-friendly way to do it?
It’s supposed to rain tomorrow – I’ll take a couple of water samples afterward just to make sure everything is still safe.
And as an aside: I was standing next to the tanker; and a barrel they were using to catch any “drips” – and there was NO SMELL.
At tonight’s meeting of the Gun Lake Improvement Board, attended by many Cuddy Channel homeowners – the Board approved Greg’s motion of paying $25,000 towards the sedimentation basin and debris catcher to be installed on the upper Cuddy Drain!!!!!!
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who signed petitions and attended the meeting, and spoke on behalf of the channel residents – your constant support has been amazing [insert giant group hug!] I’m also grateful to the members of GLIB for their support. It was truly a happy night!!
This morning, we had a party for the siren! Representatives from the Governor’s office, both counties, all 4 townships; plus various Public Safety agencies and the DNR all attended. Naturally, the GLPA and representatives from the Gun Lake Tribe were there.
And then the definitive moment: firing up that bad boy atop the pole!!! We had all been given ear plugs; but as you can see from the picture – it was still LOUD!!! My favorite pictures:
Yes – it was VERY loud and that’s exactly what we wanted!
I have water data going back to the mid-90’s; and the Cuddy Drain has always been an e-coli hotspot. Keep in mind that we like to see CFUs (Colony-Forming Units) under 300 CFUs – and the Cuddy usually delivered counts over a thousand. Even the Michigan DEQ did some testing, then gave up and declared the Cuddy to have a “normal” level of 1000 CFUs. Wonderful.
Yesterday, I brought some friends from the Gun Lake Women’s Club along – and we dipped water samples from 6 sites. Today, I did a preliminary read/count of the incubating cultures – and the highest readings were at the Patterson and 1st St bridges; and those were only 100 CFUs!!!!! The rest were zero. This is insanely-happy news!!!!
Now, this could all change dramatically for the worse, if we get some sloppy ferilizer-spreading in the Cuddy Watershed. Over the winter, trees were cut along the drain just south of M-179; and now the fields are planted alarmingly-close to the drain – like 10′ away. Those liquid-manure spreaders can throw 40′ – so we’re one close pass to having raw manure dumped in the Cuddy Drain and shortly afterward, into Gun Lake. Yeah, the current in the Cuddy is that fast. Fortunately, the fields in our watershed have been spared the liquid manure treatment for the last 2 years. IF you see a “honey wagon” in the fields between Patterson and 4th St, and south of M-179 – please speak (kindly!) to the person driving the tractor? Remind them, that the “ditch” is actually a spring-fed creek that empties into the lake. No farmer, nor their employees, want to taint the water.