Cleaning up Colonial Lake

  • Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 12:01 a.m.

On nice days, it isnít unusual to find one or two optimists wetting a line in Colonial Lake at the spot on the Ashley Avenue side where water drains in and out.

And even on days that arenít so nice, youíre likely to see people from all parts of the peninsula taking their constitutional around the seven-acre lake.

They do so because the walk is pretty ó despite the stale smell from the shallow, mucky-bottomed, algae-filled pond.

With $100,000 from the city of Charleston to match a $100,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, plans are for some fixes to reduce the muck in the lake and raise the water level.

Dustin Clemens, Charlestonís assistant director of capital projects, said the work will involve adding a flow line to the storm drain at Beaufain Street to allow more two-way water movement in and out of the lake.

Not yet nailed down are plans to redo the lakeís walls and walking paths and landscape.

As nice as it would be for the lakeís walls to be repaired soon, the city must keep necessary repairs of the Battery at the stop of its list. A detailed 2004 engineering report found Colonial Lakeís walls as ranging from poor to fair to good. By comparison, the Low Battery seawall has been assessed as fair to poor.

Additionally, the Battery provides some protection for the peninsula during storms. And it is a key piece of the pedestrian waterfront walk around the peninsula.

Wisely, the city has begun preliminary work toward replacing the most fragile part of the Battery ó the section where High Battery meets Low Battery. But the rest of the Battery needs repairing, too.

Fortunately, the Charleston Parks Conservancy is interested in improvements to Colonial Lake, and it is expected to make announcements about its green space effort in 2013.

The lake is a worthy project. It is part of a large tract set aside by the city as a common. In 1881, the city appropriated funds to improve what was then called the Rutledge Street Pond and to create an area to rival White Point Garden.

In 1884, the lakeís concrete walls were completed.

It was a popular place to boat, fish and even swim until the water quality worsened. It remains a popular place for running, walking dogs and relaxing.

And with cleaner, deeper water, maybe Colonial Lake anglers wonít have to be such optimists.

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