Broken water wells and the woeful Michigan economy are putting a crimp in camping and for others seeking a scenic stay in the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Vanderbilt, Mich., according to the Traverse City Record Eagle.
Contaminated public wells prompted state officials to shutter one campground and partially close another park. The bad wells won’t be fixed for at least six weeks, state officials said.
“We tell other campers where they can get water and what the situation is,” said Richard Schneider, camp host at the Pickerel Lake Campground in the state forest. Another water well is available elsewhere in Pickerel Lake campground, and the problem hasn’t deterred anybody from pitching tents or parking recreation vehicles at open campsites, Lynda Schneider said.
“A lot of people bring their own water, especially in their bigger rigs,” she said. “Everybody loves this place because of the swimming and the fishing.”
The trouble is that water wells at Pickerel Lake and Pigeon Bridge state forest campgrounds, both east of Vanderbilt in Otsego County, tested positive for coliform bacteria. State officials said they can’t afford to pay for repairs and additional testing.
Officials instead temporarily closed the northern loop of campsites at Pickerel Lake and blocked off all of Pigeon Bridge campground.
“With our budget cuts, we’re not able to get a licensed well driller in there to take a look and check for needed repairs,” said Robin Pearson, recreation specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It is possible that new wells may need to be drilled, she said.
One well had a pump breakdown during flushing and retesting for coliform bacteria, while the other well needs to be checked for cracks in the casing. Both jobs currently are financially out of reach, officials said.
“We don’t have any money in our budget until Oct. 1 and even after that, we may not have any,” said Mary Dettloff, DNR spokeswoman.
She said the state’s 2008 budget will determine when the water wells can be repaired or drilled anew. Only then will the closed campsites re-open.
In the meantime, campers can stay at Round Lake, Pigeon River, Pine Grove or Town Corner Lake state forest campgrounds, all within the Pigeon River Country State Forest.