The Kansas University campus has a few iconic locations, and Potter Lake is one. A group of students is looking at the possibility of cleaning up the lake and sprucing up the area around it. Given the many memories Potter Lake holds for generations of KU alumni, it seems likely that raising funds for such a project would be a popular effort in the eyes of many alumni.
Students first are concerned about pollution of the lake, which was placed on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's list of most polluted bodies of water in 1999. The primary problems are trash left by visitors to the lake and fertilizer-laden runoff, which encourages the growth of smelly algae in the water.
Students would seem to be the ideal group to spearhead an anti-littering campaign to address the trash problem. Volunteering to police the area and pick up trash on a regular basis would be an ideal project for a KU student group. The run-off issue would require working with the administration, but it is hoped KU officials would be amenable to reducing fertilizer, using more environmentally friendly products and/or adding native plants around the lake to filter draining water.
The students also would like to see additional benches and improved paths around the lake along with a gazebo where musicians could perform. All of these certainly would be in keeping with the traditional uses of Potter Lake.
Students have suggested that unused student fees that are sitting in a reserve account could be used to fund the improvements. Using student fee money might provide some incentive for students to maintain the improvements, but this project also seems ripe for a plea to KU alumni with fond memories of Potter Lake.
A number of alums generously stepped in to repair and improve Danforth Chapel - another KU icon - after it was seriously damaged in the 2006 microburst. The deplorable condition of Potter Lake likely would strike a similar emotional chord with alumni who want to preserve the lake they treasured for future generations of KU students.
Potter Lake has been - and could be again - one of the most peaceful and scenic locations on the KU campus. It's great to see a student group drawing attention and seeking plans to restore the lake's natural beauty.