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.

The lake 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.

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