Protecting a Jewel
It could have been different-and could still be different if Miller and other residents don't stay vigilant. In recent years the battle over Pleasant Lake has not been pleasant. The deepest gravel pit in southeast Michigan is being mined by Barrett Paving Materials Inc. barely a mile from where Miller swims. The impact on the lake and surrounding aquifer could be devastating, according to many local residents. Or, if you subscribe to the viewpoint of Barrett and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, it could be nothing.
Barrett has had a gravel operation a mile southwest of the lake for more than forty years. But when the gravel company requested a permit expansion in 2005, many residents fell into a panic-because this time, the company wanted to dig much deeper.
"It could be fifteen miles from here and [our] wells could go dry," Freedom Township supervisor Robert Little told the Ann Arbor News in October 2006.
Little died a year later. His appointed successor, Dale Weidmayer, signed a revised version of Barrett's excavation permit on May 13, 2008. The compromise ended three years of discussion, petition, and negotiation. Now Pleasant Lake and surrounding Freedom Township have placed their water under a custom-designed series of monitoring safeguards. Township attorney Mark Reading, who devised them with a hydrologist's help, says they're "relatively certain" to protect residents from contamination or lowering of their lakes and water table due to Barrett's expanding mine.