Students ask council to invest in Lake Arbor project

$10,000 ask would target excess phosphates in water

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/11/20

With its upcoming plans to dredge Lake Arbor and remove excess sediment, the city is considering working a $10,000 proposal into the mix after the proposal’s authors — a sixth-grade class from …

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Students ask council to invest in Lake Arbor project

$10,000 ask would target excess phosphates in water

Posted

With its upcoming plans to dredge Lake Arbor and remove excess sediment, the city is considering working a $10,000 proposal into the mix after the proposal’s authors — a sixth-grade class from Moore Middle School — presented to the council March 2.

The students have worked on the proposal in their science class throughout the school year. Teacher Alicia Asmus put the project together after receiving a question from student Zach Ford, who noticed he could not see any fish in the lake this summer. During that time, the city posted signs warning passersby to stay out of the water because of high levels of blue-green algae, which can cause sickness in humans and can be fatal to animals.

PREVIOUSLY: Sixth grade science project aims to help Lake Arbor

Since then, students have researched Lake Arbor and water contamination; visited the lake to collect water samples; tested the samples for abnormal phosphate, nitrate and pH levels; and compared those results against water samples tested by Arvada Water.

“We concluded excess phosphates are causing the blue-green algae at Lake Arbor,” said student Drew Charles, who attends the Westminster school, located at 8455 88th Ave.

The students’ findings showed the lake water tested for phosphates as high as 4 ppm, as opposed to the standard range of 0.005 to 0.05 ppm. Samples tested by Arvada Water also showed high phosphates at a range from 0.06 to 0.19 ppm.

Based on research and discussions with scientists from around the state, the students believe the elevated phosphates have been caused by fertilizers and wastewater contaminating the lake, they said.

“We need to do something about it,” said student Walker Munoz. “It is stopping recreational activity at the lake and we are the cause of this problem.”

After exploring three potential solutions, the class came to city council with its suggestion to build devices for the lake called floating wetlands. The man-made rafts would float in the lake and provide a place for plants to grow, which in turn would absorb phosphate out of the water, Charles said.

With the $10,000 provided by the city, the students would build the devices and set them up. After one year, the group would test the water again to determine if the solution has been effective and in the third year, could create additional wetlands, restock fish and explore employing the solution at other polluted lakes.

Council asked city staff to determine whether the student’s request could be incorporated into its Lake Arbor dredging plans, which staff will present to council in the coming months, said City Manager Mark Deven.

Councilmember Nancy Ford applauded the practicality of the students’ work.

“This is a great learning tool in solving actual problems. I appreciate you all for being a part of this,” she said.

Mayor Marc Williams also praised the project.

“I see an opportunity, if what you’re proposing works, that we ought to be looking at using in some of our other parks,” he said. “You might have come up with a very good solution for us.”

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