Fountain City Lake and its caretaker, the Fountain City Lions Club, have struggled with unsightly algae bloom for years. Even after the city of Knoxville stepped in with renovated infrastructure, algae on the lake continues to be a problem.
Last fall, the city proposed another move that will hopefully mitigate algae bloom: a wetland area on the north side of the lake. Putting an artificial wetland on the shallow end of the lake may help filter the water, and native plantings will consume nutrients that the algae is eating now.
That “fix” is closer to reality this week, as the city of Knoxville opens bids for the wetland’s construction May 3.
Knoxville Parks and Recreation director Joe Walsh said he’s hoping for some good, competitive prices. After the bids are opened, it will probably be about a month before the winning firm starts work.
The process will be “pretty straightforward,” said Walsh. The lake will be drained, and wire baskets and stone will form the wetland’s foundation. Once those are in place, native wetland plantings will be placed on top. It should take two or three months to complete, so Walsh anticipates a September 2017 opening.
But that doesn’t mean that other work at the lake has stopped. Several volunteer clean-ups have taken place, and the city is still working with the Lions Club on regular maintenance. Most recently, the city opened the lake’s special spillway to “skim off” the top layer of algae.
“We’re still going to look at the notion of adding more wildlife once the wetlands are completed, maybe a fish population that will help control the algae,” said Walsh. “We’ll see how the wetland holds up and how it affects the water quality, and then we’ll just take it from there.”
While progress may seem slow, Walsh said conditions at the lake are moving in a positive direction.
“I think we’re making slow, positive improvements,” said Walsh. “There’s a lot of history at Fountain City Lake, and it’s very visible. We want to help make it something to be proud of and not an eyesore.”