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Lake levels rise into yards, wash away boats in Ionia County

Lake Morrison water levels have surged from rain over the past several days, prompting the Sheriff's office to discourage high speed boating
Ionia Co Morrison Lake
Posted at 4:10 PM, Jun 29, 2021

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — The off-and-on storms and heavy rainfall over the past several days have caused water levels at Morrison Lake to rise, knocking boats from their docks, seeping into personal wells and washing away waterfront yards.

Residents in the area reached out to FOX 17 after the water began to rise on Thursday.

“Morrison lake is a little bit overflow right now,“ Sgt. William Hoskins, emergency management coordinator for Ionia County, told FOX 17 on Tuesday afternoon.

While there are multiple inlets for water to make it's way into the lake, there is only one outlet for it leave. Sgt Hoskins says the county's drain commissioner has lifted the boards on the dam blocking off that outlet, allowing the water to begin the process of leaving.

“And basically its flowing as fast as he can let it flow... Unfortunately, its not going fast enough, and we’re ending up with some water coming into wells, and the backs of peoples yards, and up to their houses on portions of the lake,” Sgt. Hoskins said.

He says it will simply take time for the levels to go back down. Of course, there is still water coming into the lake, and there is more rainfall expected in the near future.

“Its Mother Nature and there’s a little more rain in the forecast still, and the area rivers and creeks have not crested, so it's very possible that water is going to go up a little bit yet," Sgt. Hoskins said Tuesday.

"People that do have their wells that are submerged right now, we would recommend they don’t use those until they contact the Ionia County Health Department and they have those wells tested and re-certified.”

A fishing tournament on the lake Tuesday morning had some homeowners concerned about the boaters creating additional wakes, causing more damage.

Sgt Hoskins saying, “We’ve been able to make contact with the director of that tournament. They're being very cooperative with us and holding their wakes down for us, so that shouldn’t be an issue."

Sheriff's deputies were stationed at the Morrison Lake public boat launch throughout Tuesday, speaking to anyone putting a boat in about the flooding concerns and asking them not to create large wakes.

There is another tournament scheduled for Tuesday evening on Morrison Lake, but sheriff's deputies tell FOX 17 the tournament organizer plans to pass on the request to those later participants.

Lake Morrison sits within both Boston and Clarksville townships. FOX 17 spoke with Superintendent of Clarksville Brian Thompson on Tuesday, who said he feels for the residents concerned about their homes.

"Hopefully, it's a once in a lifetime," Thompson said in regard to the level of rain the county has received in the last week.

He says he has begun looking at potential avenues of imposing temporary reduced speed limits on the lake in the future— a process that would take some time and would require approval from the DNR before being imposed.

If participants in the fishing tournaments, or anyone on the lake for that matter, were to damage property with their wake, they can be issued a citation.

“There is actually a statute that deals with wakes causing damage to property, so if someone does cause property damage with a wake, then yeah, they can be liable for that and could be cited for that," Sgt. Hoskins said.

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