Bill Nolan, a resident of River Street in Spring Lake, said he's been raking algae and other vegetation from the water, but has nowhere to dispose of it. Nolan, who has lived on Lloyd's Bayou for six years, said he's never seen lake conditions this bad.
The approximately 220 residents along the bayou’s shore each pay a $179-per-year special assessment for weed control, but Spring Lake Township currently does not pay for weed control.
Nolan said the vegetation blows in under the Leonard Road bridge.
“I have no idea where I can put it,” said Nolan, standing with a pile of freshly raked weeds on his dock. “It's very difficult to clean up. It's very heavy and wraps around anything and everything.”
Nolan has been trying to sell his house, and fears the lake weeds may deter potential buyers.
“It looks terrible and is unsightly,” he said. “It's not something you are looking for if you are looking at buying a lake house.”
But it's not just the aesthetics that concern Nolan. He said the water vegetation is choking out recreation.
“You can't swim, paddle, fish or boat in it,” he said. “It's a navigation hazard — it clogs intakes on Jet Skis and gets caught up in propellers. I observed seven Jet Skis in one day that died from it clogging and they had to get towed.”
Nolan said it's difficult to remove the vegetation if you have a bad back. But if it's left to die in the water, he said bottom sediment builds up, creating mucky conditions.
“The plan for controlling weeds is weed killer,” Nolan said. “While this works in some areas, it isn't healthy. We proposed weed cutting/cultivating. It reduces toxins, reduces muck and keeps the area clear.”
Over the past several years, the township has purchased three parcels on the Grand River just west of Leonard Road, but, to date, the township has not contributed to weed spraying assessments. The township owns about 2,600 feet of frontage on Lloyd’s Bayou.
Bob Lubbers, an Edgewater Condominium resident for 14 years, recently approached Spring Lake Township Board members to ask them to do their fair share.
“It's basically just algae drifting in from around Leonard Street when the wind and current are right,” Lubbers said. “That area used to be treated, but it is also worse this year probably because of high water levels. I've never seen it this bad and owners here before me say it's the worst ever.”
Lubbers said the lake management company sprayed the bayou a couple of weeks ago and the algae problem significantly decreased, but after heavy rains and strong winds, the problem worsened.
“They treated three times this year,” he said. “I really feel the treatment people did their job. That's not the problem. New junk constantly drifts in.”
Township Manager Gordon Gallagher said he is awaiting advice from Progressive AE water quality expert Tony Groves, but that the township is not opposed to contributing to weed spray costs in front of its shoreline if Groves feels it would help.
“Is the township property something that should be treated?” Gallagher poses. “Is the township property something that should be included in the overall assessment district? What is the flow of water into Lloyd's Bayou. We've asked Tony Groves to give us some information.”
Gallagher said he hopes to have a report for the Township Board’s meeting Monday, Sept. 10.
Groves said the algae problem is caused by fluctuating water levels and an overly warm summer. He said the water flow actually runs from Lloyd's Bayou, under the bridge and out into the river, but that the constricted area under the bridge can cause issues.
“A lot of the water levels have come up, which creates a condition for plants to take off,” Groves explained. “In the bayou, there's been a lot of algae growth this year. The water flows out of the bayou and into the river. I don't think it finds its way into the bayou as some think it might. I don't think the problem lies with the township — I think the problem lies with Mother Nature.”