Kansas University will spend $125,000 to dredge Potter Lake, a project that will help preserve a campus icon.
The funding is coming from KU’s Student Senate Finance Committee, the Office of the Chancellor and KU Endowment, according to a KU news release.
Another $200,000 project, funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, will help reduce the amount of storm water runoff coming from Jayhawk Boulevard that drains into Potter Lake. That money will be used to upgrade storm drain inlets and add a basin to collect runoff.
In Potter Lake’s 99-year history, the lake has been dredged once. The upcoming project is set to start in June and should be finished before the fall semester starts. The dredging won’t require the lake to be drained. Instead suction pumps on barges will pull sediment from the lake’s bottom.
“We are absolutely estatic about it,” said Melissa Allen, who is vice president of the Potter Lake Project, a student group that has been pushing to preserve the lake. “We never thought the money would come this quickly.”
In approving the project, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little praised the students in the Potter Lake Project for their work to restore the lake. They scooped out eight tons of coontail, added aerators to the lake to increase oxygen levels and secured funding.
Over the past 50 years, storm water runoff has caused the lake to fill with sediment, nutrient-rich fertilizer and plant life. Last summer, Potter Lake reached a crisis point as heavy rainfalls led to a burst in plant growth, which sucked oxygen from the water. As a result, hundreds of fish died.
Last fall, the Kansas Biological Survey estimated there were 600 dump trucks worth of sediment in the lake.