Cuddy Drain Meeting 5/9/2018

This should have been an uneventful Annual Meeting, but after the February “flood” that took out a large chunk of Cuddy channel-side just below the Debris Barrier (there also was erosion upstream just south of M-179), helping to build the ever-growing deposit of sediment in front of Mike Seagly’s house…. we had a lot of questions.

The good news: as we stood at Seagly’s house (corner of Patterson and Valley) after the meeting, we could see Pavlak Construction’s excavator with a large pile of riprap, ready to repair the washout. It seems that during the flood, water was racing down the hill north of the yellow house, crossing behind the house, and crashing into the Cuddy, creating an eddy which carved out the one spot without riprap 😦 That is fixed now. Mr Pavlak did this work under warranty, which is awesome!

Also – Pavlak again cleaned out the Sediment Basin. I think what we’re seeing is erosion of the “raw” reconstruction of the drain. Once grasses/plants become established, there will be less erosion. Brent Scholten the engineer from Allegan County, walked the entirety of the Cuddy Drain recently, so has a good grasp on what is happening. Our teeny little watershed is not being overlooked and I hope our Drain Commissioners know that we appreciate it!

But once again, the Cuddy has dropped its sediment on the east side of the Patterson Bridge. The current seems to do a counterclockwise gyre, so we have a horseshoe-shaped deposit of sand about 18″ below the surface at its highest point; and it’s out of the reach of an easy fix, like a Vacu-truck which was sent to remove at least some of the deposit earlier this spring. In the meeting, Mr Englerth suggested that if you live at the delta of a river, this is to be expected. (paraphrased).  I suggested that Mr Seagly be refunded his portion of the dredging assessment, since his navigation is being impeded. After the meeting several of us went to Seagly’s house to look at/measure the sand deposit; and different options for clearing it out were discussed, including using a bubbler to push the sediment away from Seagly’s frontage. I suspect that since Mr Seagly should be able to park his boat in front of his house at the moment, they might wait a year to deal with the sediment, in the hopes that as the stabilized channels stop erosion, one more dredging on the east side of the bridge should keep things clear for many years?


“Innovation and Excellence” : Cuddy Update

Left to right: Chad Mencarelli. Project Manager w/LRE;  Brent Scholten, Allegan Maintenance Engineer; Denise Medemar, Allegan Drain Commissioner; Dan Fredricks, VP and Project Designer/Manager w/LRE;  Jim Dull, Barry Drain Commissioner; and Deb Masselink, Rich Beukema, and Greg Purcell of the Friends of the Cuddy Drain  (*)


Thursday October 12th, several of us met once again at our beloved Cuddy Drain.  The entire project is being submitted to the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners – who will pick one project to win an “Innovation and Excellence Award”!!  Of course, we “Friends of the Cuddy Drain” feel it’s a shoo-in, but it would be nice if our Drain Commissioners were to win this accolade – a lot of time and effort went into it.  For the 3+ years of this project, Denise Medemar, Russ Yarger; and later Jim Dull; have consistently listened to and respected the voices of the residents.  Dan Fredricks designed a plan that finally solved the issues that had plagued Cuddy residents for decades, and his design turned a flood-prone, silt-laden, drain-filled-with-pathogens into the crystal-clear and safe body of water that we see today.  Chad Mencarelli was on-site during the construction, and Brent Scholten keeps everything running smoothly.  The Cuddy residents told the commissioners they were prepared to pay the (admittedly-steep) assessment as long as the “job was done right”.  And it was – all our original remediation goals were met.

All of the above still strikes me as amazing

*Absent from photo: Mark Englerth, Yankee Springs Supervisor who facilitated countless meetings between the Drain Commissioners and the residents, giving everyone a voice in the project.


I have to add a PS: on October 14th and overnight into the 15th, we received 6.75″ of rain, twice the amount that triggered the Great Cuddy Flood of 2013.  When I drove past the Cuddy on the 15th, it was happily burbling along.  No flood, no silt, no debris, no drama.

The Cuddy – Before and After

I put this together to show another group – I know it’s crude, but I’m not a Powerpoint sort of girl (heck – I did my chemistry calculations on a slide rule!). It was amazing to see the difference between “before” and “after”! Yes, some of the pictures are from the Great Flood of 2013, when we received 3.3″ of rain in a 2-day event; ironically, we received a similar amount this past June, and the newly-renovated Cuddy handled it like a champ!  How soon we forget what a raging, moody thing the Cuddy used to be….. or the scary amount of erosion that happened.

At 1st St, where there were elevation changes, rock “riffles” stopped the cutting-away of the stream floor; and rip-rap stabilized the banks.  The “perched” area where the banks eroded downstream of the 1st St bridge, used to extend all the way to the right side of the last photograph.

Now the Cuddy is just a happy, burbling stream with a nice gravel bottom – until it hits the deep Sedimentation Basin, where it slows down and lets any suspended sand, etc fall out.  The little dam at the end keeps the sediment in place; and the Cuddy turns back into its happy little self again downstream.


The amount of debris that washed down was staggering – the old barrier stopped a lot; but was hard to clean.  The new debris barrier is simple and easy; and accessible from its very own (private) road.


Timber Creek’s 2 drain crossings were a nightmare of perching, erosion, and worn-out culverts.  The whole area was so overgrown that you couldn’t even see the water – I had to find the culverts by listening for them.  Now the protective shade that e-coli loves, is missing in many places; and the overhanging trees and shrubs, while pretty, added a lot of unwanted nutrients to the water

And one last look at the headaches the Cuddy brought on a too-regular basis:

This has been an amazing journey, and none of it would have happened without the Cuddy Residents stepping up and saying “We’ve had enough”.  And our government officials, both elected and appointed, listened. Add an engineer (Dan Fredricks) who took the Friends of the Cuddy Drain’s goals and made it work.  And finally, under a truly massive Special Assessment…. (yeah, that was a bit painful) – it all came together.  A giant group hug!! to all of you!!

Cuddy Drain Meeting Wed. May 10th Notes

It was a great meeting!  We had a good audience turnout, with zero complaints.  Here is the happy news:

Dredging: DONE.  Silt curtain was removed, bathymetric scanning is complete and they actually dredged a little bit more than planned.  They planned on removing 10,000 cubic yards of sediment, with another 2,000 cu.yd. built into the contingency – they actually removed 12,300 cu.yd’s of sediment.  This resulted in a slight cost overrun of 2%, or $7,410.00.  There were additional costs brought about by more LRE inspection time than previously accounted for – but as someone said from the audience: “Pay ’em – they’re worth every penny!”

Upstream remediation: ALMOST DONE.  The culverts have been replaced at Timber Creek – they are just finishing up seeding/mulching.  Unfortunately, a property owner along 1st St asked for extra riprap so he can ride his ATV across the drain which divides his property.  Since he had already ridden across, and tore up some of the erosion prevention….sigh… the commissioners voted to do some prevention for $1000, rather than go back later for restoration.

Sediment Control: WORKING.  The Sedimentation Basin has been in place; and before the contractors leave the area, they will scoop out whatever sediment has been collected so far.  Someone mentioned that there is some sediment collecting under the Patterson Bridge.  There will ALWAYS be some sediment – the watershed is quite rolling, and farmland is planted VERY close to the drains.  The good news is that the 2 collections points for sediment are easily accessible by an excavator, to be cleaned out.  Jim Dull, Barry County’s new Drain Commissioner, proposed checking the Sedimentation Basin at least twice a year (and that sounds good!)

Debris Control: WORKING.  The barrier is easily seen from Patterson Rd; and easily accessible via the easement

E-coli reduction: stay tuned 🙂  Our tests last fall showed lovely CLEAN, SAFE WATER (for the first time in decades).  I have been holding off on testing this year, until the majority of streambed work was finished.

New issues: That beautiful new bridge on Patterson is attracting fishermen.  It’s OK for them to fish from there – but it was proposed that “No Parking” signs be installed at the bridge.  And maybe a trash receptacle?  Rich Beukema says he has been picking up bait cartons and food wrappers left behind 😦

Lastly – and this is a BIGGIE:

NO TRESPASSING:  I know that the egress roads for the Sedimentation Basin (off 1st St), and the Debris Barrier (off Patterson), are acting as lures for those of us who love to hike in the woods along a babbling brook.  However, those roads are still on PRIVATELY-OWNED PROPERTY, whose owners were promised that only Drain Commission workers would be using the easements so kindly granted by the adjacent residents.  Without those easements, the things that will keep the Cuddy Channel clean and safe, would be lost.  Please stay OFF the private property, and encourage others to do the same.

The last, and probably FINAL meeting for the Cuddy Drain Board (at least regarding the Patterson bridge replacement and water-problems resolution) will be Wednesday June 14th at 10 AM at the Yankee Springs Township Hall.

Important Notes from the April 12th Drain Meeting!

I hope Pat Gillespie will forgive me for copy-and-pasting her comments, but she’s giving us important information!! Please read and spread the word:

[from Pat]

I took off time from work to attend the Cuddy Drain Meeting April 12, 2017, this past Wednesday. Here are a few takeaways from the meeting in case folks haven’t heard:
The dredging is due to be finished by May 1 at which time the sedimentation curtain stretched across the channel will be removed. If May 1 is not met, the contractor will be penalized daily. The work is now focused on cleaning out any remaining high spots missed the first time through. Second, you do not need a state permit to re-install any temporary/non-permanent docks. You might need a permit if you removed a permanent dock and intend to re-install it–the board and contractor didn’t know for sure, but they said they would check and let us know. This last point raised some concern among public attendees, as you can imagine. Please help spread the word on these points with your Cuddy Channel neighbors and seasonal property owners. Obviously folks are eager to get their boats back in the water, but we all have to wait until we are sure the channel is open at the mouth. Don’t get stuck like I did. I have a seasonal property and can’t see the barrier closing the channel from my location. I didn’t see the May 1 date anywhere so like every year I arranged to have my pontoon delivered the State Park in early April regardless of rain, snow or sunshine–it’s a long tradition dating back decades. Imagine my shock and surprise when we approached the channel and saw that barrier! I had to pay extra to have my pontoon pulled out again and stored until a future unknown date. Sigh. On a positive note, the channel has a beautiful volume of water with ample depth. What a great job and really good people to work with. Thank you!


Thank you again, Pat – I forgot the impact the sedimentation curtain makes!!!

Meeting notes: dredging is NOT done

I’ll stick this right at the top because it’s so  important: the dredging has been suspended due to the weather. The dredgers will return in the spring to finish any areas that need touching up.

This is kind of nice – it gives Cuddy and Island residents time to assess their channel frontage!

Dan Fredricks was kind enough to send me a copy of his presentation (with lots of photos!)  If you double-click the line below this, it opens up a second link which will take you to the PDF presentation.  (I’m not techno-smart enough to make this happen more gracefully – my apologies)


Or – if you want the short, sweet version:  all of the goals set forth by the Cuddy and Island residents at the very beginning of this project, have either been met; or are very close to being finalized!!  And the new bridge is beautiful!!