Native-Plant Small Wetland Proposed Next Step in Fountain City Lake Restoration

Communications Director

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

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

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Native-Plant Small Wetland Proposed Next Step in Fountain City Lake Restoration

Posted: 08/26/2016
Fountain City Lake WetlandThe City of Knoxville has invested more than $260,000 updating and repairing the water-quality infrastructure at Fountain City Lake.

At a public meeting Thursday night at Fountain City Park, environmental engineering firm LDA Engineering shared with residents, Lions Club members and lake enthusiasts a proposed design for a new wetland area on the lake’s northern end – the last major step needed to fix Fountain City Lake’s decades-old problems.

The addition of the wetland would eliminate a shallow, stagnant zone of water that for years has been conducive to thick algae growing. LDA’s design calls for introducing native wetland plants, such as blue flag iris and cardinal flower, that would reduce algae-feeding excess nutrients.

The wetland would make good use of the quality spring-fed water by helping to support aquatic life and soften the hard outline of the lake, creating a more natural setting, LDA Senior Project Manager Stefanie Farrell said.

New wetland at Fountain city Lake
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Joe Walsh, the City’s Parks and Recreation Director, agreed that the wetland would be a beneficial new amenity for Fountain City Lake – both in terms of aesthetics and functionality.

“We knew restoring the lake to good health would be a long process, but we’re nearing completion, and the City is pleased by the progress we’ve made with the help of the Lions Club and LDA,” Walsh said. “This wetland would create new habitat for wildlife, and it would complement the lake’s beauty. We think lake visitors will enjoy it.”

In the past two years, the City and its contractors have repaired a leak in the earthen berm that surrounds the lake. Crews have repeatedly drained, cleaned, treated and taken measurements of the lake, and inappropriate species of fish have been relocated. Algaecide has been sparingly added. 

Earlier this month, work was completed on the lake’s fountain system and pumphouse to increase aeration, which helps control algae growth by adding oxygen to the water, agitating the water and reducing stagnation.

In addition, the improved system can remove the dirtiest water from the bottom of the lake and also skim floating algae and debris from the lake’s surface.

A City crew also has installed new lakeside signs, reminding visitors that feeding the wrong food to the lake’s waterfowl is harmful – both to the ducks and to the water quality. Visitors often bring bread, grain or pet food from home to feed the ducks. If visitors want to feed the ducks, they should only give them the food pellets available at lakeside dispensers.

Farrell hopes Fountain City Lake visitors recognize the environmental harm that comes with overfeeding the waterfowl.

“Visitors can do their part to further help reduce algae and keep the ducks healthy by refraining from feeding the ducks and allowing the lake’s natural ecosystem to care for itself,” she said.

Some Fountain City residents at Thursday evening’s presentation expressed enthusiasm for the wetland design, saying it would beautify the lake, improve the water quality and provide educational opportunities for children. Others expressed concerns about the cost of future maintenance and about changing the shape of (and decreasing the size of) Fountain City Lake.

The wetland would be less than two-tenths of the 1.1-acre lake. The area proposed for a wetland is the shallowest and most problematic part of the lake.

Anyone wishing to comment on the wetland design proposal may do so by contacting Walsh at jwalsh@knoxvilletn.gov or at 865-215-4311.