A transformation was needed for a former coal mine, county dump site and impaired state water body. A multimillion-dollar project was started in 2013 for a 178-acre fishing hole in the Midwest that was plagued by erosion from unregulated urban runoff and invasive species. To begin the transformation, the lake needed to be dredged and drained.
The lake was constructed in 1965 out of a former coal mine and county dump. Since its construction, sediment from tributaries that feed the lake, along with sediment from shoreline erosion clouded the water and accumulated on the lakebed. The lake lost hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of potential volume due to shoreline erosion. In 1967, the lake's deepest point as 28 feet, according to the state DNR. Sediment reduced the maximum water depth to 21 feet by 2003, an equivalent of 317,035 cubic meters of water.
Once the lake was made shallow by the increased sediment load from erosion, problems soon developed. The lake had poor water quality and suffered from large blue-green algae blooms, high bacteria concentrations and low oxygen levels. It was on the state's impaired waters list for years. No longer could people safely fish, swim or kayak in it's waters.
Crews dredged 678,000 cubic feet of silt from the lake bottom - the equivalent of 20,545 dump trucks. They also removed more than 500 tires and a pickup truck that had been stolen in 1994 before being dumped into the lake. After the dredging, the lake was drained for lakebed restoration and shoreline stabilization
The lakebed restoration was required due to site's past as the county's last operating coal mining site and it had large swaths of leftover waste. Crews neutralized the waste by adding lime to the surface, acting as a buffer for new soil on the lake bottom. The new lake bed helped improve algae problems created by river runoff that was high in nutrients, especially phosphorous, which clung to sediment.
Over 20,000 feet of shoreline was rehabilitated, almost 4 miles! A vegetated armor was sought for the shoreline stabilization to improve water quality by reducing sediment loading into the lake. It was also important to increase recreational uses, such as fishing kayaking. The DNR planned to do controlled burns for vegetation management. For these reasons, the flame resistant Flexamat® Plus-FR was specified for the shoreline armor. 8' wide rolls were used for the vegetated shoreline armor.
After nearly two decades of planning and six years of construction work, the lake was open again for swimming, kayaking and fishing. People enjoying these recreational activities are able to safely enter & exit the water, and fish over the vegetated shoreline armor. Now game fish such as bluegill, walleye, bass, catfish and crappie thrive in the waters that were once polluted. The now beautiful lake is surrounded by a 12-foot wide, 10-kilmeter recreation path. After the lake improvements, the park now attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year!