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Drought, failed pump dry out Barron Lake

NILES, Mich. – Michiana’s drought is starting to cause some problems at inland lakes. One of the hardest hit is Barron Lakes just outside of Niles.

The water table on the Cass County lake has dropped nearly a foot in the past few weeks.

"Look how high my pier is right now,” said 82-year-old David Bays, a 50-year resident on Barron Lake. He hasn't seen this much beach in a while. "I’d say about 15-feet wouldn't you say?” Bays usually can’t see any beach outside his house.

On the other side of the lake 39-year-old Chuck Barnes can hardly get his fishing boat out from his dock anymore and the rowboat is beached in the sand. "If we lose another two inches in depth, we won't be able to move the boat," said Barnes

"This is probably the lake that's been impacted the most," said Cass County Drain Commissioner Bruce Campbell.

Barron Lake has been losing between two and three inches of water every week. Campbell said a broken hydraulic pump coupled with a warm winter and poor spring has added insult to injury. "These spring rains are vital,” he said. “We just haven't gotten them and here we are in mid-June."

Barnes is taking matters into his own hands this weekend. “We’re going to add about 10-feet of pier,” he said.

Bays won't be taking his pontoon out but he will be watching and hoping. "We need rain," he said.

Barron Lake’s hydraulic pump was fixed Thursday. Campbell said it should slow water loss but without rain the water table will keep dropping.


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