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Martin Lake discourse at county was civil, effective

August 19, 2012
The Mining Journal

Ironically, though the end results will not be known for several months and may not ultimately produce satisfactory gains, citizens looking for responsive lawmakers got just that recently in the case of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners and Martin Lake.

The lake, situated near the south end of K.I. Sawyer, has been dropping its level precipitously this year to the point where docks jut out into thin air along the lakeshore. Residents and property owners around the lake came to the county board looking for help.

Though they concede decreased rainfall and snowfall amounts, evaporation and lake depth are all factors that are likely contributing to the problem, most Martin Lake area residents and property owners think the pumping from two wells from an aquifer linked to the lake is the primary culprit.

Water pumped from the wells is used for residential, commercial, industrial and firefighting needs at K.I. Sawyer, but two other wells in the area are also used.

Residents had previously met with Commissioner Bill Nordeen, who called the matter to the panel's attention, requesting the opportunity for the board to explore the problem during a committee of the whole session.

Residents got involved and came to the meeting and spoke politely and effectively on the issue, from viewpoints educated on the problem, most from first-hand knowledge.

The county board listened to the concerns and then voted to recommend county staff develop a recommendation for the lowest pumping level feasible for the two pumps thought to be drawing water from the lake. Last month, the county had already dropped production from those wells down to 10 percent.

Once the staff recommendation is received, the county board will decide what level to pump the water at, notify residents if changes in the levels are made for increased demand or water quality issues, and will revisit the lake levels issue in April, after hopefully precipitation-filled fall and winter seasons.

Though the action may lead to no positive result, the effective example of the interaction between the citizens and the county board is one we hope will play out repeatedly with as much seemingly initial effective results in other parts of the county and with other problems the panel's constituents are facing. Good job.



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