City Officials, Community Partners Discuss Next Steps for Restoring Fountain City Lake

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City Officials, Community Partners Discuss Next Steps for Restoring Fountain City Lake

Posted: 08/26/2015
City of Knoxville officials at a public hearing Tuesday evening updated stakeholders on what’s been done so far to repair the infrastructure at Fountain City Lake – and what steps will be taken in the coming months, both by the City and by families who enjoy using the lake.

“Many people deeply cherish Fountain City Lake, and we’re taking careful steps to restore the lake in the right way,” Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “We know the problems with the lake have been decades in the making, and we likewise know that a full restoration can’t happen overnight.

“A lasting solution requires commitment to a long-term plan. The City is repairing the lake’s infrastructure and developing a management plan. Once those are completed by next summer, we’ll need the help of community partners going forward to maintain a healthy lake.”

Mayor Rogero, City Council members, City engineers, experts with environmental engineering firm LDA Engineering, and Fountain City residents and lake stakeholders shared ideas at Tuesday’s public meeting, held at the Lions Club Building, Fountain City Park, 5345 N. Broadway.

One of the proposed solutions is to eliminate the shallow area of the lake by turning some of the lake’s northern end into a wetland area. This conversion would aid habitat diversity while reducing the size of a stagnant zone of water that’s been conducive to thick algae growing. The wetland also would provide more shading to help lower water temperature – also useful in deterring algae – while providing a natural vegetative buffer that will reduce algae-feeding nutrients and filter other pollutants in the water.

Fountain City Lake suffers from excess algae growth. LDA Engineering identifies three major culprits:

• Feces from too many waterfowl, compounded by public feedings;
• Shallow, stagnant, warm water;
• An imbalanced ecosystem.

Mayor Rogero and City Council included $250,000 for improvements in the 2014-15 budget, and work began last fall with the repair of a leak in the earthen berm that surrounds the 125-year-old manmade but spring-fed lake. Crews have repeatedly drained, treated and taken measurements of the lake, and fish have been relocated from Fountain City Lake to the pond at Victor Ashe Park with the help of TWRA.

The next steps in the long-term improvements of the lake will include:

• Fall 2015: The lake level will be lowered during a naturally dry cycle. The number of water fowl will begin to be reduced. Lake sediment and rooted algae will be removed. Construction of the wetland area will begin.

• Winter 2015 / spring 2016: Upgrades will be made to the fountain system and pumphouse to increase aeration, which adds oxygen to the water, agitates the water surface and reduces stagnation – all helpful in combatting algae growth.

• Spring / summer 2016: The wetland area will be planted with native species. The lake will be restocked with triploid grass carp and blue tilapia to control aquatic vegetation. Chemical algaecide will be sparingly applied if needed. 

Volunteers and community partners will be asked to help with routine management. Additional landscaping improvements and creation of educational and civic programs by non-profit or community groups were options discussed at Tuesday’s public meeting.

“We’re doing much of the heavy lifting, and we’re preparing a detailed, specific owner’s manual for the long-term care of the lake,” said David Hagerman, a City stormwater engineer who’s been working on the Fountain City Lake project.

“What we’ll need going forward will be increased community awareness – do’s and don’ts on how to feed the ducks, for example – as well as community partners willing to take the reins and make sure the lake stays healthy for decades to come.”