For pure “ick” factor, it would be hard to top the job a group of Kansas University students undertook Saturday at KU’s Potter Lake.
The university should appreciate students’ efforts to clean up the increasingly polluted lake, but this job clearly demands some professional attention.
Fed by fertilizer-rich runoff from the surrounding area, the bottom of Potter Lake is covered with plant material that robs the water of oxygen and kills the lake’s fish. The top of the lake is completely covered with green watermeal that further complicates the situation. It’s an eyesore and likely a potential health hazard for the campus.
The student-organized Potter Lake Project deserves credit for its work to improve the lake’s condition. With the help of alumni donors, the group has purchased an aeration system to provide more oxygen to the lake and a skimmer to help remove the watermeal. The real proof of the students’ dedication, however, is their willingness to venture into the lake, as they did last Saturday, to physically pull out thousands of pounds of coontail that now infests the lake bottom.
The students are slowly improving the lake’s condition, but they need more help. What the lake really needs, one of the student organizers told the Journal-World, is to be dredged, a project that hasn’t been done for about 50 years and will cost $50,000 to $100,000. It’s a lot of money, but not more than one would expect to correct 50 years of neglect.
Many KU alumni have fond memories of walks to the lake and special campus activities that were held there. A number of those alumni already have stepped up to help, and the KU Endowment Association surely could find a few more who would be disappointed to see Potter Lake in its current slimy condition.
KU officials should be grateful for all the time and effort students have put into this cleanup effort, but the students can’t do it alone. It’s time for administrators to step in with a little money and manpower to restore what should be a beautiful landmark on the KU campus.