Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Group forms to save Lake Allegan

Pursuant to Consumers Energy’s August 9, 2022 announcement concerning the possible removal of the Calkins Bridge Dam on the Kalamazoo River in Allegan, Coco Soodek, president of the newly formed Lake Allegan Association, says doing so would eliminate Lake Allegan and devastate the community. “Lakeside home values would plummet, reducing tax revenues that support schools and community needs. Businesses sustained by the vibrant Lake Allegan community would suffer. And lake recreation as we know it today would disappear.”
Over 350 people have joined the Lake Allegan Association, which was created to help preserve the dam, the construction of which led to the formation of Lake Allegan in 1935. The association’s current objective includes reaching out to Allegan County residents, businesses, and to political leaders across the state to inform the public of potential dam-removal risks. The Lake Allegan Association is also reaching out to the other affected communities to join the mission.  Their goal is demonstrating to Consumers Energy that the stakes are too high to consider dam removal.  
The next meeting of the Board of the Lake Allegan Association will be Thursday November 10 at 6:30pm. The Board’s agenda for the meeting will include commentary from local affected businesses and residents. LAA has launched a podcast as well to inform the public and discuss the issues. It will be available November 7th on their Youtube channel Lake Allegan Association https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbkDVQNr-GR4sQrbuO0UP8A  
Consumers Energy’s federal hydro operating licenses expire starting in 2034, so the company has begun evaluating its long-range hydro strategy that would affect thirteen dams statewide. One outcome being considered for each dam is to not renew the license, which the company says could lead to dam removal.
Another aspect to consider in the potential plan are the environmental ramifications. Trapped under lake sediment are an estimated 22 tons of dangerous PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), carcinogenic chemicals released by paper mills into the Kalamazoo River decades ago. “The Calkins Bridge dam also plays a key environmental protection role. Under a long-term EPA clean-up plan, the PCBs will be remediated. much of the trapped sediment would likely remain safely buried. If the lake were drained, the process would almost certainly be more extensive and more expensive.” according to Purdue University Professor Emeritus Bill Chaney, chair of the association’s science committee.” “Keeping the lake, Chaney points out, lowers PCB cleanup costs while preserving area property values. 
Lake Allegan is an impressive 1,695 acres, only five acres smaller than the well-known Lake Macatawa in Holland. It was formed by an impoundment of the Kalamazoo River at the Calkins Dam. With over 55,000 acres of state land just west of the lake forming the Allegan State Game Area, the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife and over 350 lakefront homes.
For more information on the association, its mission etc. please visit  https://www.lakeallegan.org/.

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