Why is there Algae in Little Lake?

August 9, 2010

When Harry and Peg Bradley began to develop the landscape at Lynden during the 1930s, water was an important element. Three bodies of water were excavated during those years. The largest body, just over 3 acres, is referred to as the Big Lake. To the east of the Big Lake, between the road and the property line, is the Lily Pond, which covers approximately one tenth of an acre. Located just to the west of Henry Moore’s “Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 9” is a body of water sometimes referred to as the Wading Pond or the Little Lake. All three bodies of water have unique characteristics that allow their biological organisms to function in different ways.

The physical makeup of the Little Lake lends itself to the widest and most unstable environmental extremes of the three water bodies at Lynden. Designed to be shallow, the Little Lake has a maximum depth of three feet and covers an area just under a quarter of an acre. The shallow depth allows for optimum light penetration, warm temperatures, and rapid plant and algae growth during the growing season. Management practices over the years have involved a combination of drainage, sediment removal, manual removal of algae and vascular plants and the regular application of EPA labeled algaecides and aquatic herbicides.

During the 2009-2010 construction year at Lynden the Little Lake was drained and allowed to remain dry the majority of the time. Permitting the pea gravel-lined bed to dry out as much as possible aided in the removal and compaction of bottom sediments. Prior to the opening of Lynden in May, the Little Lake was refilled utilizing well water. It was perfectly clear for the opening!

One major management difference for the 2010 growing season is a decision to attempt to manage the Little Lake with an emphasis on ecological principles while reducing or eliminating the use of aquatic algaecides and herbicides. To date, no aquatic herbicide or algaecide applications were made. Entering into early August during the hottest time of the year and without chemical suppression the algae and vascular plants have dominated the Little Lake. (The run-off of phosphorus from the heavy rains hasn’t helped, either; phosphorus contributes to the algae bloom) As time permits and the weather cools we hope to rely on non-chemical management techniques—primarily drainage and plant filtration–to improve the aesthetics of the Little Lake.

Bob Retko, Senior Grounds Manager


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