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Archive for Sunday, October 4, 2009

Raking through Potter Lake

Students delve into cleaning project

From front left, Adam Hope, Blake Warner, rear left, Alex Belot and Sam Hagen, all members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, pull rakes through the water at Potter Lake as part of a cleanup effort Saturday. The Potter Lake Project spearheaded the effort.

From front left, Adam Hope, Blake Warner, rear left, Alex Belot and Sam Hagen, all members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, pull rakes through the water at Potter Lake as part of a cleanup effort Saturday. The Potter Lake Project spearheaded the effort.

October 4, 2009

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Raking through Potter Lake

With one pitchfork toss at a time, Kansas University students were working to restore one of the school’s most idyllic landmarks Saturday morning. Enlarge video

Volunteers Saturday raked the waters of Potter Lake, taking out what vegetation they could to help fish survive.

Volunteers Saturday raked the waters of Potter Lake, taking out what vegetation they could to help fish survive.

With one pitchfork toss at a time, Kansas University students were working to restore one of the school’s most idyllic landmarks Saturday morning.

Organized by the Potter Lake Project, a group of around 30 students had gathered on the shores of the campus pond in hopes of improving its health.

It was a task that required weeding out thousands of pounds of coontail.

Students paddled out to the center of the lake in small fishing boats and used pitchforks and garden rakes to pull up the coontail. Barely a dip in the water yielded forkfuls of the green, seaweed-looking plants.

The group did a similar project three weeks ago and dredged up three tons of coontail.

Saturday’s work was a drastic measure for a body of water whose health is in critical condition, Potter Lake Project president Matt Nahrstedt said.

Approaching 100 years and inundated with rain, Potter Lake was at a crisis stage this summer.

Green, grainy watermeal had completely covered the surface of the lake and beneath it lay even more plant life — sucking up oxygen.

As a result, fish were dying — hundreds of them.

“It became really apparent … that we really had to do something now,” Nahrstedt said.

Partly because of the natural cycle of manmade lakes and partly because Potter Lake is a draining pool for Jayhawk Boulevard and the ending point for fertilizer run-off, the bottom of the lake is covered in deep nutrient-rich sediment ripe for plant life. And too much plant life can overwhelm the lake, taking away oxygen for fish and other animals.

Saturday’s mass coontail removal was one of several steps taken after conditions reached a serious level this summer.

Supported by alumni donations, the Potter Lake Project spent $15,000 to put in an aeration system, which provides more oxygen to the lake, and to purchase a skimmer, which will help remove the watermeal.

But the ultimate solution, the project’s vice president Melissa Allen said, is dredging the lake, which hasn’t been done in 50 years. It’s a fix with a $50,000 to $100,000 price tag.

“For the lake to become beautiful … it needs to be dredged,” Allen said.

Comments

BlackVelvet 4 years, 6 months ago

uh, yeah Marion....I do believe latex is...a hazardous material.....plenty of it in potter lake!

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blindrabbit 4 years, 6 months ago

Marion: Those latex critters were called "whitefish" down at the sewage treatment facility. Populations really increased during warm months following dark, fullmoon lit nights

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 6 months ago

Um, is latex a hazardous material?

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blindrabbit 4 years, 6 months ago

When I was in Seattle; used to go to the University of Washington campus to watch the salmon come up through Puget Sound to try to get into the small pond on the University to spawn. Of course there, those were real salmon and not the prairie salmon (carp) that we have here.

Best of luck with the clean-up!

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blindrabbit 4 years, 6 months ago

Great story and good luck; I'll gladly help if students blog back!! Say, I heard that Jimmy Hoffa was seen on campus just before he disappeared years ago!!

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BlackVelvet 4 years, 6 months ago

It's just a shame the University talked about cleaning the lake up for so many years but didn't actually DO anything about it. I imagine it might have been easier and less expensive had they done this a decade ago.

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Bursting 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm ready to jump in the lake after a huge football win again someday! watch out for those rocks on the bottom though, ouch....

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Danimal 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad that someone is getting the ball rolling on this, Potter's Lake is in terrible shape. It will be nice to get it dredged out, and maybe even enlarged a little bit since it has silted in so much in the last few decades.

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alm77 4 years, 6 months ago

That makes so much more sense. Thanks Alfred!

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50YearResident 4 years, 6 months ago

Autie, I found a watch out at Clinton Lake when the water was low a few years back. It was by the KU rowing dock and was a Timex, covered with mud and grime and yes it was, taking a licking and still ticking. I still have it but the battery went dead now.

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Alfred_W 4 years, 6 months ago

alm77: "Could someone explain to me the science behind plants taking up too much oxygen? "

The plants don't use up the oxygen. What happens is that after a runoff the excess nutrients cause a spike in plant growth, which leads to a plant die-off when the lake can't sustain the new growth. When the plants die off, microbes breaking down the plant matter are what actually use up the oxygen.

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alm77 4 years, 6 months ago

Could someone explain to me the science behind plants taking up too much oxygen? I thought plants gave off oxygen as a matter of fact, I was my understanding that the plant life in the ocean contributes oxygen to the entire planet. Educate me, please!!

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 6 months ago

You know, you can aerate a pond by taking a fire engine, tossing in the draft line, sucking out water and spraying it back into the very same pond.

We used to do this often with a '37 Chevy fire engine on some ponds at a nearby farm.

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autie 4 years, 6 months ago

They didn't find my watch did they?

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GardenMomma 4 years, 6 months ago

I remember the ducks. We used to go feed them bread. I wish they would come back sometime. I hope they can clean up the pond and keep it that way.

Old photos show a diving platform and swimmers. Imagine that!

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shleppy 4 years, 6 months ago

my dad used to say that if one were to jump into potter you would just bounce right back out due to all the condoms in the lake.

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christy kennedy 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks very much to these students and everyone supporting this project.

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sad_lawrencian 4 years, 6 months ago

I went to college at the University of Connecticut, which has two beautiful man-made lakes on campus. Those lakes are pristine and a joy to behold. In stark contrast, the KU lake is ugly. A small investment in time and resources would have made KU's lake a beautiful part of its campus. It's a shame that Kansas University hasn't kept up the maintenance on the lake.

I have to applaud this effort that the students are making. Here's hoping the lake once again looks beautiful!

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