The practice of lowering Grand Lake to an elevation of 741 feet in August through October 31 will continue this year despite the efforts of the Grand River Dam Authority and many Grand Lake marinas to stop it.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission informed GRDA of their decision this week of their decision. The letter, directed to Dr. Darrell Townsend, GRDA Ecosystems Management Superintendent, states that GRDA did not give FERC the additional information they requested concerning a flood routing study, an environmental report, generation analysis, and a plan for keeping stakeholders informed about the amendment.
FERC has been bombarded with letters opposing the proposed change in the rule curve from businesses, organizations and city leaders in Miami ever since GRDA submitted the application in early April.
Grand Lakers United Enterprise, a group of Grand Lakers formed to promote Grand Lake recently sent a letter proposing a compromise of a
level of 742 feet. The proposed temporary rule curve from GRDA asked FERC to maintain the lake at 743 feet through September 15 since the lower levels create situations for boat owners where the lake is too low to launch their boats.
According to FERC response, they see the request as one for recreational purposes. Tad Jones, Executive director of the Grand Lake Association and Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said he was concerned about FERC’s decision. “I know that Grand Lake residents are extremely disappointed in this decision because of how important it is to Grand Lake and the direct effect it has on it’s residents and businesses,” Jones said. “I know that their efforts to find a solution to this issue will continue in the future.”
Several marina and resort owners and boaters were very vocal about their frustration of the practice of lowering the lake and solicited help from legislators and GRDA to change the rule curve.
Joe Harwood, a Grand lake businessman who was instrumental in initiating the opposition to the lower lake levels, says that this is the beginning of the fight, not the end.
“I am very disappointed and frustrated. There is not a person in favor of lowering the lake, not one, yet it doesn’t seem to stop it. Members of congress, senators and other state and local officials have voiced their opposition to this time and time again and still they don’t comply. You would think that majority rule should incite change but that just doesn’t seem to be the case here. We will not give up this fight. If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” Harwood said. “That is what we intend to do.”
Miami City officials, however, are pleased with the decision. They believe the higher lake level increases the threat of fl ooding in the city, as was the case in July 2007.
“I think it is beneficial to wait until the Army Corps of Engineers study has been completed to see what the effects will be to all parties.” said Miami Interim City Manager Tim Wilson.
“Im glad they made the ruling and it’s a good decision for our businesses. The sensible thing to do is to have a study done, but who’s going to do it?” said Kent Ketcher, Miami Mayor.
“I have to say that this is the most frustrating and disappointing experience to date regarding this issue,” said Rusty Fleming, Grand Lake activist. “This is something that we are not going to give up on, we are going to be relentless. Grand Lakers United Enterprise has reactivated our website for the purposes of continuing our petition drive and to address water quality issues. We will be taking a new approach to things; we will no longer wake in June or July and say something needs to be done. We will inundate FERC with letters throughout the year.”