Cool, clear water.
The lake is full of it. You’re likely to see a fish before you catch it. Actually, it can be frustrating to watch your hook and lure pass right in front of them when they obviously have other things running through their little fish brains than playing your game. Normally, they’re pretty compliant. But other days, I swear they’re swimming with one fin over their mouths.
I don’t know a lot about lake management, but I know when it’s right. And this lake is, from my perspective, about as perfect as can be. Heavy rains bring some turbidity, but in mid-summer when the spring rains subside, I’ve seen six foot visibility in this lake water. The lake is teeming with turtles, fish, and waterfowl. Some wood ducks come and go, and the geese seem like they never leave. But we have a couple of tenants that are on our favorites list. Fish-breath Fred is the Great Blue Heron that hangs around. And the elusive beaver hasn’t received a name, but we love him anyway. However, Fish-breath Fred took top position when the beaver started tearing down our teepees. I guess we need to build them further from the lake. There’s probably an old adage about that, too.
Water quality testing on the lake yielded good results. The lake water nearly makes the cut for drinking water in terms of coliform bacteria, and there are no observed concentrations heavy metals or chemicals. The two creeks that flow into the lake are clean and clear, sandy-bottom creeks that flow year-round. Even in the driest months of last summer, the lake maintained full-pool levels as the creeks continued to flow.
We’re employing some new techniques that mimic the natural elements that contribute to water quality. When developing land for residential use, impermeable surfaces are a necessary evil. The result is stormwater runoff that must be managed for restricting flow and improving quality. The typical model for a lake in a subdivision has gutters along the sides of the street collecting water and directing it into a hard, underground pipe that takes the water directly to the lake. The lake is the place where the water stops moving in order for contaminants to fall out before it moves downstream. However, our plan is for the lake to continue to serve as a recreational lake. In order for us to feel comfortable with our kids to swimming, boating and fishing in the lake, we need to clean that water before we send it there. So we’re incorporating low-impact development (LID) practices in order to accomplish exactly that.
The water treatment “train” is the vehicle for this piece of the puzzle. The train consists of a network of systems designed to slow down storm water and allow for filtration and INfiltration. We’ll direct surface water to vegetated swales where the water will be filtered by native plants and grasses and allowed to slowly return to the ground, with the excess returning the lake cleaner than it otherwise would be.
However, there is one problem with vegetated swales. In the summer, when rain becomes less frequent, the swales need to be irrigated, lest they become dry ditches. This proposes a maintenance problem, but I think we’ve found a solution. We’re planning to use lake water for a heat sink to support the mandated geothermal heating and cooling systems for the homes. These systems will pull water from the lake, use the water to cool themselves, then send the water into the swales. This solves the irrigation problem, and at the height of the summer requirement for irrigation, the air conditioning systems will be running more, resulting in more water flowing through the swales. Engineers at Bosch are working out the details, but at this point it looks like a system that will work wonderfully, and we’re effectively removing contaminants from the lake through filtration. Pretty neat.