Image: Bay County cold-water diver

Rising water levels are continuing to plague parts of Mid-Michigan.

Crews in Bay County are diving deep to protect the farmland.

“We’ve never had to hire a salvage diver to get into our flap gates,” said Bay County Drain Commissioner Joseph Rivet.

Rivet told TV5 this is a unique year for checking flap gates. Flap gates are check valves that prevent the water in the Saginaw River from flowing back into ditches.

Rivet said high water makes it more difficult to see and remove obstructions. He said if the flap gates are blocked nearby farm fields will flood.

Rivet said he’s doing his best to prevent that from happening.

“If that means hiring a scuba diver to check what would normally be stuff we’d do routinely with our own maintenance staff. That’s what we’re doing this year,” Rivet said.

The cold-water diver TV5 spoke with said he’s glad to help farmers.

“This is their livelihood with these fields. And if the water’s going to be impacted for them and they can’t produce any crops, it’s going to hurt us economically as well as them personally,” said Diver Don Middleton.

Middleton has been diving for 46-years. He said he’s never had an assignment like this, and he’ll be busy until spring.

“We have a bunch more that he wants to check out. So we’ll keep checking them out until we get them all completed for them and make sure they’re all working properly,” Middleton said.

Rivet said that in many cases, the water will be so high this year that the drains won’t function. He said he wants property owners to be prepared.

“The bay water is going to be higher than the ground we’re standing on. So being familiar and aware of that and trying to protect your property as best you can and your valuables is important,” Rivet said.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is protecting the Saginaw Bay. Surrounding water levels are expected to rise another 11 inches in the summer.

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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