Furman University Lake Restoration Project
In 2006, as part of Furman's "Year of the Environment" campaign,
the university dedicated itself to improving the environmental quality of the
Furman Lake and its surroundings. The lake, also known as "Swan Lake",
was one of the first features constructed on the new campus in the mid-1950's,
when the university moved from its downtown location. The lake was created by
damming a small tributary of the Reedy River just below the confluence of two
streams. The dam is at the south end of the lake, under the road to the physical
plant and the Facilities Services complex. The two streams still feed the lake;
one from the picnic shelter west of the Bell Tower and one from the North Village
dorm complex that enters the lake near the Asian Garden.
The lake quickly became the center of student life at the university. There
was a sandy beach for swimming and sunning (still marked by a low wall on the
western shore), and the lake was also used for boating (there were crew and
sailing clubs!), fishing, and hall competitions.
By the 1980's, however, algal blooms and high bacteria counts made the lake
a less inviting place. By the end of the 1990's, most recreation was prohibited
because of health concerns.
In 2006, a task force of students, faculty, and administrators was established
to identify the major problems with the lake and to make recommendations for
how to correct them. Since then, the university has moved swiftly to implement
these recommendations and the changes to the lake environment have been dramatic.
This website details the problems of the lake, the solutions that are being
implemented, and the changes in habitat quality that have occurred.
is being used as a living laboratory to study the effects of the restoration
effort on the water quality and ecological integrity of the lake system. Long-term studies of waterfowl populations, water chemistry, and bacterial levels are overseen by faculty in the Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences Departments. Most recently, two sections of Ecology classes studied
various aspects of the lake during spring 2010. The reports of their findings are posted in the Progress section. The Lake Restoration Project
exemplifies Furman's commitment to environmental stewardship, sustainability,
and engaged learning, and is being used as a model for other lake restoration
efforts in the region.