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How Water Exits Wall Lake

Water leaves Wall Lake through a canal drain at the east side of the lake.  The water travels downstream from the canal into Shallow Lake.  A water retention dam in the canal helps maintain Wall Lake’s water level.

In the early 20th century through the post-World War II era, Wall Lake experienced periods with low water levels.  Because Wall Lake has no feeder rivers or streams, and therefore no rapid source of incoming water, it was known to have “poor replenishing power.”  Because of these periods of low water levels, lake viability and property values were a concern.

Prior to 1953 an earthen dam existed in the drain as an attempt to retain water in Wall Lake.  The earthen dam was not successful at retaining water in Wall Lake, and in 1953, after much study, a court established the Legal Lake Level of Wall Lake at 927 feet above sea level.

The court stated that 927 feet above sea level is:  “The lake level that provides the most benefit to the public; that best protects the public heath, safety, and welfare; that best preserves the natural resources of the state; and that best preserves and protects the value of property around the lake.”


On June 21, 1954 the lake level was measured at 926.5 feet above sea level.

In 1955, after much analysis and planning, a concrete dam with a box weir was constructed in the drain canal.  The purpose of the dam was to retain water and prevent spring runoff so that the lake has more water to offset the “dry season and evaporation.”

The dam is inspected under authority of the Barry County Drain Commission every three years and the water level just upstream from the dam in the canal is recorded.  This is not necessarily an accurate measure of lake level as obstructions in the canal between the lake and the concrete dam can reduce or completely obstruct water flow.  The implication of this is that the water level in Wall Lake is at times higher than what is recorded in Dam Inspection Reports.

Records indicate that since 1954 Wall Lake's lake level has ranged between 927.8 and 921 feet above sea level.  Keep in mind that this data is very limited because it is from Dam Inspection Reports, performed once every three years, at varying times of the year, at a location that is not necessarily representative of the lake itself.

In 2019 the Barry County Drain Commissioner identified several county drains that need new benchmarks so that improved water elevation measurements can be made.  We have been advised that Wall Lake will receive two new benchmarks.

The Greater Wall Lake Association has no authority over the drain and dam, and no ability to control Wall Lake’s lake level.

The Barry County Drain Commission has authority over county drains.


Wall Lake residents have a special tax district to cover expenses relating to the drain and dam.  Any inspections, repairs, revisions, and dredging to the drain and dam is subject to the Drain Commissioner’s authority to tax residents accordingly.

The Greater Wall Lake Association communicates with the Barry County Drain Commissioner in an effort to ensure that the county drain, including the dam that controls water exiting our lake, is functioning as intended.

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