Yellow- and rust-shaded parts of this map show which properties will pay part of the cost of a proposed dam for Dumont Lake. Some residents there petitioned to raise the lake level.Lake expert Stuart Kogge diagrams how the lake level can affect erosion at the shoreline. Marked so far is the lake's current level, measured earlier in August as 714 feet above sea level.Here, lake expert Stuart Kogge shows how the lake level changes at the previously proposed mark of 715.1 feet above sea level as well as the revised level of 715.0 feet.

Dumont Lake dam approved; now awaits DEQ permit

Ryan Lewis, Editor

A plan to raise Dumont Lake’s water level received court approval today.

Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker approved an amended plan Friday, Aug. 29, that would increase its depth approximately 1 foot.

Bakker said, having heard the testimony provided, “The court finds the lake level should be set as offered...” “...and the special assessment district is adopted as presented.”

Residents near the lake in October 2012 petitioned the county to study the lake, whose shallow levels in recent years had stranded some docks and led to excessive weed growth.

A final study completed in late 2013 recommended constructing a steel sheet pile dam that would raise the 245-acre lake’s level to 715.1 feet above sea level. The project is estimated to cost $105,000.

That plan was amended this week to set the level at 715.0 feet, prior to the hearing, according to project engineer Mickey Bittner. The change was reached as a compromise with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to better accommodate the habitat and reduce shore erosion.

The structure also will not vary the lake level by season, another change from the 2013 plan.

The one-time cost of the structure will be split between the county government, Allegan and Monterey townships, 69 lakefront property owners and 42 properties with deeded access to the lake. Estimates in the 2013 plan pegged the cost to lakefront property owners at approximately $800 and those with deeded access, $400. Maintenance costs will also be assessed.

Allegan County commissioners approved the plan in January.

Bittner said his firm, Wightman & Associates, would now spend approximately two months preparing detailed plans for the project.

Those designs would then be submitted to the DEQ, in consultation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, to request a permit to build the structure. Bittner estimated that process could take approximately three months.

The DEQ would allow affected property owners to submit comments as part of its process; it may even schedule a public hearing, Bittner said.

If granted the permit, the Allegan County Drain Commission office would then put the project out for bid and schedule a public hearing. The bid selection process would take approximately three to four weeks.

The drain commission hearing, called a day of review, would present the final cost of the project and present how that will be assessed to individual property owners.

If all of that goes as planned, Bittner said, the project could get underway in spring 2015, possibly even in time for Memorial Day. The assessment would not be on tax bills until winter 2015.

For more on this story, pick up a copy of the Sept. 4 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to our e-edition.

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