Dredging studied in Narrows & Leland River

Today’s TC Ticker has a nice article by Beth Milligan looking at the possibility of dredging in the Lake Leelanau Narrows & Leland River:

After two unusually wet years posed challenges for those who regulate Lake Leelanau water levels, the county will study whether dredging the Leland River could provide relief.

A 1978 court order mandates the Leland Dam Authority to manipulate water levels to keep Lake Leelanau steady at 589.21 feet in the summer and 588.21 feet in the winter. Explains Leelanau County Drain Commissioner Steve Christensen: “You have to have consistency for the recreational use of the lake, so homeowners know where to put their hoists and docks in and boaters can navigate the shallower areas of the lake.” In the winter, a foot drop “helps prevent ice damage” and creates room to “accommodate spring runoff,” according to Christensen.

The Dam Authority controls the lake levels through the Leland Dam in Fishtown, which draws excess water out of the south end of Lake Leelanau, down through the Leland River and Narrows and out the other side into Lake Michigan. The problem? While the dam itself is fairly new – rebuilt in 2006 – an excess amount of moisture in the watershed combined with the long route out to Lake Michigan has made it difficult for officials to lower water levels quickly, posing flooding risks to homeowners on South Lake Leelanau.

…Should an engineering study ultimately favor dredging, there could potentially be a secondary benefit for homeowners, particularly those located along the Leland River.“People on the river have voiced their concerns over navigation issues, because the sedimentation and silt in some parts of the river are significant,” says Christensen. “As the Dam Authority, we are tasked with maintaining the court-ordered lake levels, not with navigation. But a side benefit (of dredging) could be improved navigation. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get two birds with one stone.”

Click to read more at the Ticker.

Looks like this will be one that takes years to figure out so stay tuned!