Friends of Hicklin Park seek new grant to ‘increase the effectiveness of our Floating Islands’

Two months after Hicklin Lake got its first “floating islands,” its neighborhood advocates are pursuing a grant to make them more effective. Here’s their update:

Friends of Hicklin Lake are a small group of neighbors formed in 2004; our primary goal is to have clean water in our lake for the safety and health of our children, students and the community, including visitors from other areas. The following information shows how we are one step closer to our goal.

Hicklin Lake is located within Lakewood Park, next to Cascade Middle School and Technology Access Foundation Learning Center. This lake has a long history of polluted waters caused by inappropriate diversion of drainage that occurred in the mid 1960’s: all of the Salmon Creek Basin containing 750 water shed acres of drainage was diverted into 4 ½ acre Hicklin Lake, which has no natural outlet. Consequently pumps are required to keep the lake from flooding and unfiltered drainage is being pumped out of the lake and into an old government sewer line that discharges into Puget Sound. Historically, prior to the drainage diversions, water was directed through Longfellow Creek; the reason for the changes is unknown.

This year, 2013, a grant of $50,000 from the State Department of Ecology provided funding for two Floating Islands, (man made wetlands), containing a total of 1200 square feet. One manufacturer recommended 5,000 square feet for a lake of this size and the amount of drainage it receives. However it is at least a start in the recovery of Hicklin Lake’s poor water quality, which suffers not only from poor decisions about drainage, but from the loss of its original natural wetland, paved over to provide the west parking lot of the park. King County is funding research for two years on the effectiveness of the Floating Islands for water clarity and water quality improvement.

Friends of Hicklin Lake discovered this technology, and held meetings with the community and staff of King County to pursue the Floating Island technology project starting in 2011 (Floating Islands were launched July 2013). These Floating Islands also provide shelter and food for fish and the vegetation absorbs Carbon Dioxide and gives off oxygen, a win/win natural system.
We have now applied for a Grant through the Rose Foundation which handles the Puget Sound grass roots Grants for small groups that may be mostly volunteers.

Our purpose is to install three under water air diffusers powered by an air compressor located in the existing pump house. These aerators, strategically placed in the lake, will greatly increase the effectiveness of our Floating Islands by mixing the colder heavily polluted bottom layer of lake water with the upper, warmer water, and pushing a smorgasbord of contaminates toward the microbes, which are actively colonizing the roots of plants on the islands even as we write this. Recall that the microbes are the work horse of the islands, digesting pollutants. Also, aeration provides life-giving oxygen to fish and water creatures, and helps reduce Algae formations. An advantage of this particular system is that air lines are placed in the lake floor, but no electric line is directly in the water, thereby adding a safety feature. The water that is eventually pumped to Puget Sound should be much cleaner by the use of the Islands and the aerators, working in concert.

The Floating Islands require very little maintenance and the aeration system costs for power and maintenance is minimal for the results.

Friends thank all the local organizations that provided approval letters to help pursue the grant for the Floating Islands, proving once again that communities working together can make positive changes.

To help inform our community on various concerns and projects for Lakewood Park / Hicklin Lake, Friends of Hicklin Lake are providing a monthly E-Mail news letter titled Hicklin Lake Informer.

Dick Thurnau and Marcia Wollam
Friends of Hicklin Lake

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2 Responses to “Friends of Hicklin Park seek new grant to ‘increase the effectiveness of our Floating Islands’”

  1. thank you Dick and Marcia for advocating for our neighborhood lake/park. Could you help me understand why the water could not be rediverted and/or the parking lot section be removed? If costs were not a factor, would diversion of the water and removing the parking lot section better improve the water quality?

  2. Hi Audrey,
    Unfortunately, even if money were no object (which it is), the solution is complicated. Since water in Hicklin Lake is now polluted, and has been for decades, this drainage must either be cleaned before it enters the lake, or cleaned up while held in the lake, before it can be sent anywhere else. Currently, the water is still polluted before being forwarded on to Puget Sound. Our Floating Islands, launched in July, are a step forward, and we have also applied for a Grant to install aerators to supplement the efficiency of the islands.
    The west side parking lot replaced a large natural wetland that previously filtered incoming drainage, and its action is now lost. Merely removing the parking lot would in no way restore the lost wetland: it would involve a huge and expensive restoration project, with no guarantee of success. Substrate under the parking lot is not what it was, and the ecosystem connected with a wetland, including its plants and animals, disappeared with it.
    Thank you for your interest and for asking important questions.
    We are publishing a monthly newsletter via E-mail called Hicklin Lake Informer; if you wish to be put on the mailing list your E-mail address is needed; send to