Roscommon County is responsible for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the lake level control structures (LLCS) that impact Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, and Lake St. Helen. Legal lake levels were established for each lake by a Roscommon County Circuit Court order in accordance with Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Pa 451. Since that time, Roscommon County has paid for the operations, maintenance and improvement efforts for the structures out of the county's general fund.
The structures are in need of repairs that Roscommon County alone can no longer pay for. To defray these costs, the county will establish special assessment districts that will finance the maintenance of the legal levels of the lakes consistent with the vast majority of legal lake levels throughout Michigan.
With a surface area of 20,044 acres, Houghton Lake is Michigan's largest inland lake. It receives water from the Cut River and four major tributaries and drains into the Muskegon River. The Houghton Lake legal lake level was last revised by a 1982 circuit court order. On December 8, 2022, a special assessment district was legally established.
Higgins Lake has a surface area of 9,900 acres. This spring-fed and stream-fed lake drains into Marl Lake by the Cut River where a lake level control structure regulates flow. The structure was originally constructed in 1950. The Higgins Lake legal lake level was last revised by a 1982 circuit court order. On September 15, 2023, a special assessment district was legally established.
Lake St. Helen is 2,400 acres in size. It drains into the South Branch Au Sable River. In 1930 a lake level control structure was built on the river. The Lake St. Helen legal lake level was last revised by a 1998 circuit court order. On December 15, 2023, a special assessment district was legally established.