TEXAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Hundreds of people in Texas Township are desperate to start pumping out lake water that spilled the banks and damaged their homes.
Residents gathered at Kalamazoo Valley Community College on the night of Jan. 16, 2019, for a town hall focused on how to lower the water levels in Crooked and Eagle Lakes, but they didn’t get a lot of good news.
The water levels at Crooked Lake and Eagle Lake are already four feet above normal and have been a nightmare for some people on the lakes. Water is covering backyards and spilling into basements.
Elizabeth Aulds is one of many residents who have installed pumps to keep out what water they can, but the cold weather made it very hard to keep the pumps functional.
"That pump is freezing up on me. The ball that goes up and down, the shaft, it's freezing. So, I'm pulling all that out, I’m 74-years-old, OK,” she said.
Texas Township leaders said the best solution would be to the pump the water out of Eagle Lake, into nearby Crooked Lake and then into Bass Lake. The fix could lower lake levels by about three feet and would cost $800,000, according to township leaders. Many people want the fix, but the Department of Environmental Quality permit process has been slowing things down.
"We recognize there’s a process, but we need to treat this as an emergency situation, no different than a wildfire in California. Does it really matter what mechanism your home is lost, if your home is lost?” said Mark Tulach, an Eagle Lake resident.
In front of hundreds of people, Texas Township officials explained a permit had been requested, but the DEQ consideration had been delayed by at least 90 days. The Environmental Protection Agency needs to weigh in on a threatened snake species located in the area where the water would be pumped.
Homeowners along Eagle Lake say they don't have that kind of time.
"Please treat this as the emergency situation this is, please remove the levels of bureaucracy and permitting,” Tulach said.
An unanswered question remained; who would pay for the water to be pumped out of Eagle and Crooked Lake?
Township leaders have looked into grants, crowdsourcing and creating a special assessment district, which would ensure only those affected by the flooding pay for the solution. At the Wednesday meeting, one man said everyone in the township should chip in to cover the cost of pumping, because the lakes benefit everyone by being a place for runoff water to drain, among other reasons.
Meanwhile, some people have already poured tens of thousands of dollars into mitigation efforts. At least 10 households along Eagle Lake planned to install a steel seawall, which could cost each household more than $20,000.