How the Level of the Lake Was Determined

By Roger Duval, 2011

At every BELPOA annual meeting there is always a question as to why our lake level fluctuates. My research may have finally solved this puzzle.

I have been paying property taxes in Brandon Township since 1982 and this year I noticed a missing item. Have you ever wondered what the special assessment "Bald Eagle Lake Drain" on your tax bill is for? Since this year had no mention of the special assessment I assumed that it was completed and paid off. As a CPA doing tax work for real estate clients I always considered a special assessment for an improvement such as sewers, sidewalks, etc. that is paid over a number of years. My thinking was that the Bald Eagle Lake Drain was paid off so I called the Township Treasurer. He told me the special assessment is the yearly cost of cleaning the drain by Oakland County. He did not get any information from them when the tax bills were prepared so nothing was added to our tax bill.

This really got me thinking as to what is the Bald Eagle Lake Drain and it's relationship to our lake. After months of contact with the Water Resource Commission (formerly the Drain Commission) I was able to get a map of the area served by the Bald Eagle Lake Drain. The drain is actually an overflow that maintains our lake at the level of the opening. It is not a dam that other lakes have to raise or lower the level of the lake. Our lake level can only be increased from rain or snowmelt. It lowers by evaporation, pumping to water lawns, and wave action by boats near the drain. The overflow is at the northern end of the lake accessed by an easement from 25 W. Glass Road.

The water from the lake goes under Glass Road and under M-15 to an opening at the east end of the Belle Ann school parking lot. I found the drain continuation and followed it to Kearsely Creek. To my surprise the entry point is on the opposite side of Glass Road from the Ruth Johnson dam on Lake Louise. Over the years I had been told that our lake overflow helped fill Lake Louise. If you look at some old maps of the township you will not see Lake Louise — it was created by damming up the headwaters of Kearsely Creek that appears to originate from Huff Lake. Another interesting fact about Kearsely Creek is that it flows north. Our lake is a natural spring fed lake.
Next I wanted to find out how it was built. I contacted Water Commissioner John McCullogh and almost immediately had an email from a water resources engineer. When I said I was president of a homeowners association they responded, which gives you another reason to join Bald Eagle Lake Property Owners Association. The information they sent me was more than I ever imagined.

The drain was installed in 1929 as an overflow and outlet for the lake. The drawings did consider the canals as they were on the initial maps. Elevation was taken in consideration to prevent flooding on low lying lots. The control box at the drain was designed in 1929 and revised in 1932. The drainage district limits were changed in 1991. Lots at the south end of the lake were removed from consideration due to a drain on Bald Eagle Lake Road. The only problem with that drain is that it allows excess road waste water from the road to enter the lake.

Ruth Johnson Dam

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Drain Route and District Mapdrainroute
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Drain Profile
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