November 29, 2017

Help preserve Campus Lake while enjoying outdoor activities

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Want to help preserve Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s beloved and iconic Campus Lake and have fun outdoors? The Sustainable Eco-Recreation Open House, set for noon to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Morris Library’s first-floor rotunda, will present ideas for fun things to do on and around the lake.

The event is free and open to the public.

Restoring Campus Lake and promoting outdoor fitness

A massive reclamation project recently wrapped up at the lake, removing years of built-up nutrients that triggered toxic algal blooms and restoring the water to a safe and usable condition. The goal of the new Sustainable Eco-Recreation Program, funded by a green fee grant, is to assure the lake stays healthy for future generations to enjoy.

“When ecosystems thrive, people thrive. Harmful cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae, can’t stand cool, well-aerated, low-nutrient water, so this project supports teams of innovative students who are designing new ways for people to participate in outdoor recreation on Campus Lake. Their projects will promote the health of the lake by removing nutrients and aerating or cooling the water,” said Marjorie Brooks, associate professor of zoology. She is the lead aquatic ecologist on the grant project. The added benefit is that recreation simultaneously promotes human health”

Unique Student Concepts

Students have been involved in planning things to do on the lake and they will be presenting posters featuring some of their ideas at the open house. The proposed projects include a solar-powered surface fountain that would be part of a water obstacle course for kayakers and paddle boarders, a stationary bike with a pedal-powered pump that shoots water up geyser-style from the lake’s surface, a shoreline wetland and more.

“All of the projects are sustainably powered by solar, wind, or people.” Brooks said. “We will also have some very early prototypes. While rough, we are delighted to have prototypes because students are well ahead of schedule.”

Diverse Campus Involvement

An interdisciplinary team is working with Brooks in leading the students who are working on the project. The co-principal investigators for the project include Craig Anz, associate professor of architecture; Jeff Goelz, assistant director of recreational sports and services; Frances Harackiewicz, professor of electrical and computer engineering; and James Mathias, associate professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes.

Rachel Steiger, a master’s zoology student, is investigating the various projects to determine how well each concept or invention discourages growth of harmful bacteria.

Promoting Sustainability

SIU has long been a leader in promoting sustainability, winning national recognition for its efforts on multiple occasions. The new lake project is one of the 169 projects that have been funded to the tune of more than $2.1 million since the inception of the Green Fee in 2009 as the result of a student-led initiative.

The cross-campus Sustainable Eco-Recreational Project partnership was awarded a $29,777 grant by the Sustainability Council in spring 2017.

For more information about the Sustainable Eco-Recreation open house or project, contact Brooks at