Joe Mathis Jr. decided to pull his 20-foot boat, jet ski and pontoon boat from Lake Allegan when the water level dropped 18 inches. Other homeowners were not as fortunate, and their boats were stranded in lifts or grounded when Consumers Energy began altering water flow Sunday at the Calkins Bridge Dam as part of a state "contingency" plan for the massive upstream Kalamazoo River oil spill.
Consumers has dropped the lake 2 feet since Sunday at the request of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The idea is to slow the water flow in Lake Allegan to make capturing oil easier, as a precaution if oil ever reached the lake.
So far, oil from the Enbridge Inc. pipeline rupture has not made it past the Morrow Dam in Comstock Township and authorities expect to stop it there.
Some Lake Allegan homeowners question whether Consumers properly notified residents of the plan to lower the lake. In many areas, the receding water has left 15-18 feet of dry lake bottom showing.
"To my knowledge, there was no notification," Mathis said.
Still, he supports the effort, particularly if it helps upstream crews clean up the spill.
Consumers' spokesman Dennis McKee said the utility issued a press release Sunday, announcing the intent to lower the water level. It's unclear when it will be restored.
"We wouldn't have done it if they didn't tell us we needed to do it," he said. "Now we're waiting on the agencies involved with the cleanup to direct us to begin raising the level."
McKee said he did not know how many homeowners have stranded boats.
"In the areas where the water was shallower, there are probably some issues," he said.
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