A very good reason Lake LaVerne looks a bit soupy

Plant and algae growth in east end of Lake LaVerne

Faculty, consultants and campus planners are collecting data on Lake LaVerne this spring and summer that will help determine plans for improving and maintaining the lake. Due to the study, algae and plant growth in the lake has gone unchecked. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Yes, Lake LaVerne on the south edge of central campus looks greener than normal for this time of year. Every summer, algae and aquatic plants grow in the shallow lake, and normally, campus services staff in facilities planning and management (FPM) treat the lake to reduce algae growth. Periodically, they even remove some algae. This summer, as part of a study, the lake has not been treated, said Chris Strawhacker, campus planner and manager of the project.

With assistance from faculty in several departments and consultants from Shive Hattery and Stantec, FPM is conducting a study of the lake that will map water and sediment depths and analyze nutrients in lake water samples throughout the spring and summer. During this study, the lake is not being disturbed or treated. The results of the study are expected by December and will be used to determine priorities for improving and maintaining the lake.

Why is there one swan on the lake?

One of Lake LaVerne's iconic paddlers died in June. A campus committee continues to study options for introducing a single mute swan -- or a completely new pair to the lake, most likely in the spring.

While it's not scenic now, Strawhacker said the lake's plant and algae growth will decline naturally this fall as temperatures and sunlight intensity decrease.

A lake where there was none

Currently, lake depths vary from two feet to five feet, Strawhacker said. He noted it never was a deep lake -- perhaps nine to 10 feet following dredging efforts.

Lake LaVerne was created in 1915-16 by constructing a dam on College Creek to fill in a three-acre marsh. But decades ago, the creek was separated from the lake and still runs in an underground channel from Welch Road to the east side of the Memorial Union parking ramp. The lake was dredged in the 1930s, 1950s and 1990s, and various improvements were done to reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients entering it and enhance the shoreline.

In addition to rainfall, water sources for Lake LaVerne are groundwater pumped in at the west end and rainwater diverted from the roofs of several nearby campus buildings.