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Is it a lake?

What has 842 acres of surface water, six miles of water frontage and contains 27 billion gallons of water?

It is the Consumers Power reservoir at the Ludington Plant. Perhaps you have seen the 170 foot tall dike, berm or hill surrounding this engineering marvel. The top of the reservoir is 950 feet above sea level, Lake Michigan being 579 above sea level.

While traveling in the area, you may have seen the six transmission lines that run from the pump house, two leading to Ludington and Traverse City and four leading to Grand Rapids.

During the day, water is released from this gigantic reservoir and flows by gravity through six large penstocks (pipes), each 1300 feet long and 28 feet in diameter. The water runs through six turbines generating electricity at high demand hours. Water is lowered forty feet during this daytime process.

During the night, when the demand is low, water is pumped back up to the reservoir from Lake Michigan through the six turbines/pumps. Lake Michigan water levels are not effected by these activities.

What about the fish? Consumers Power Company is quick to point out their 2½ mile long fish net that is installed to reduce fish loss. The net is in operation between April to October every year. It is removed to prevent damage from ice and the winter storms.

To learn more about this impressive engineering achievement. Visit them on the web. Better yet, see it yourself on Lakeshore Drive between Pentwater and Ludington.

The power company has a observation tower on top of the reservoir. The views of the reservoir and Lake Michigan are magnificent from this vantage point. To reach the reservoir, it is somewhat of hike a up the paved path aptly called the “Beast”, but benches are provided along the path for those that want to take a breather, or simply sit and enjoy the view of Lake Michigan. There is plenty of parking at the parking site and restrooms are available. There is also an over the street walkway to view the jetties protruding out into Lake Michigan, as well as the pump house and the transmission lines.

On the day I visited this facility, I was unimpressed by the overall maintance of the site. The observation site had peeling paint and was full of graffiti, the grass was unkept and things overall gave the impression that no one cared for the property. In today’s scheme of things, it reminded me of a foreclosure.




Written by Dave.