When the name Brooks Lake is raised in a conversation on many of the Discovery Boat Cruises, most people do not know about it much less know that it is a lake within our watershed.
It is located next to the east shore of Big Glen and it is connected to Big Glen by two canals – one at each end of the elongated lake. Brooks is about 10 acres and is 25 feet deep. It is spring fed so the two canals serve as an outlet into Big Glen. Of all our lakes in the watershed, Brooks is the only one without any public access and the roadway (which has a bridge over the lake) and land around the lake is all private. The residents ask that the No Trespassing Sign be honored.
The small strip of land on the west shore of Brooks Lake is owned by the Harbor Island riparians. In addition, there are five small riparian homes on the lake. On the east shore of Brooks Lake there is a privately owned conservation easement that was created together with Leelanau Conservancy to protect the natural shoreline.
The water quality of this lake is very good despite the lake being in the last stages (eutrophic) of its aging life cycle. In the summer, there is no other lake in our watershed that ranks higher than Brooks lake when it comes to showing super saturated dissolved oxygen levels. The tannic acid colors the water and the soft organic bottom is difficult to see in the middle of the lake.
There are four small creeks that seep into the lake on the south end and there is an abundance of beautiful shoreline plants growing there. It is the part of Brooks Lake that provide the best protection for waterfowl. In fact, in the spring, just before the ice is out on Big Glen, several hundred Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, and Pie-billed Grebes can be found there.
For several years, plankton (free floating microorganisms) were gathered there during the spring, summer, and fall for analysis. The species diversity of Brooks Lake in the plankton samples were second to none in our watershed which indicates the water quality is very good. It is also one of nine water quality monitoring sites in our watershed and water has been tested there every two weeks year round for the past 15 years.
Finally, one of the most important facts about Brooks Lake is that about 15 nearby residents recently combined their septic holding tanks into a common sewer line that runs under the lake and eastward across County Road 675. This project now gives all the residents a common drain field far from Brooks and Big Glen thereby eliminating any negative septic influences on both Brooks Lake and Big Glen.