Friends of Hicklin Lake’s long-sought ‘floating islands’ finally in sight

In a years-long fight to improve the water quality of the lake they steward, Friends of Hicklin Lake leaders have been most recently working to get King County to procure “floating islands” – and finally everything’s a go, with installation just months away, according to this county announcement:

Help is on the way for Hicklin Lake – the small lake with big water quality problems in King County’s Lakewood Park.

In addition to the ongoing work of finding and eliminating illegal and inadvertent sewer connections that discharge pollutants into the stormwater system that flows into the lake, this year King County will experiment with technology that uses floating “islands” of vegetation to capture excess nutrients in the water that lead to Hicklin Lake’s water quality problems.

Thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology Algae Control Program, King County will install four floating islands in Hicklin Lake this summer and measure their effectiveness.

Each floating island is 250 square feet in size and built of a durable polycarbonate, anchored in place.

The islands are perforated with dozens of holes that are planted with a variety of native wetland species. The plants’ roots will reach into lake as they grow, where they will take up excess nutrients.

A bio-film of microscopic organisms that forms along the bottom of the floating islands and the plant roots will also take up nutrients from the water.

King County staff will take monthly water quality samples from locations throughout the lake to test the islands’ effectiveness at absorbing pollutants for three summers.

The project is expected to start this spring and will be completed by June 2015 at a total cost of more than $86,000.

Hicklin Lake water quality has been a concern for years, with elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and phosphorus, as well as a history of harmful algae blooms that have posed potential health threats to people, pets and wildlife.

The lake has been treated twice with alum to reduce phosphorus levels – first in 2005 and again in 2011. It is hoped that the floating islands will prove to be effective and will help to reduce the need for alum application or types of in-lake nutrient controls.

According to e-mail shared by Friends of Hicklin Lake, the county hopes to finish the state permit process by the end of April, finalize “location and design plans” with the county Parks department a month after that, and get the installations done by the end of July.

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One Response to “Friends of Hicklin Lake’s long-sought ‘floating islands’ finally in sight”

  1. ….the improvements to Hicklin Lake has been a long overdue work in progress. Many thanks to Dick and Friends of Hicklin Lake.