(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department shared with community members two designs for an aeration project on Monday evening.

“So this meeting is happening to go over two of two aeration designs that we received from a designer that does this stuff for a living,” Environmental Health and Safety Specialist for the City of Colorado Springs Parks and Rec Department, Erik Rodriguez, said. “But based on public comment that we got last spring from our boating community to talk about how we can improve water quality at Prospect Lake.”

Prospect Lake closed in 2019 and 2020 due to toxic blue-green algae blooms that caused fish in the lake to die.

“So we experienced hazardous algae blooms in 2019 and 2020, which we had to close the lake down for our recreational users to all body contact because of this hazardous to humans and pets,” Rodriguez said.

The presentation focused on how to improve the water quality in the lake and reduce the amount of algae growth by using aeration in the water. The aeration project would force air bubbles into the water to introduce oxygen, which would then diffuse into the lake.

“It creates oxygen throughout the water body,” Rodriguez said. “It helps reduce that nutrient load and it actually improves the healthy bacteria and reduce that anoxic layer where you get the odor from the nasty bacteria.”

A sign outside Prospect Lake warning community members of the rules

This proposed project would also reduce the level of pollutants in the water and increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the lake.

“That’s what this whole entire process revolves around, is that we have a healthy body of water that’s free of hazardous algae blooms so that people can recreate and enjoy it every day,” Rodriguez said.

According to the City, the project would install aerators in specific parts of the lake to improve the lake water quality with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

A key difference between the two designs is one would allow for motor vehicle use the other would not.

“So the point of having two different designs was to one that is a little bit more robust, that adds aeration to the full lake,” Rodriguez said. “The problem with that is that the motorized boats have the possibility to hit our aeration lines and our diffusers. So, we asked our designer to try to build something that fit both of those recreational models.”

One meeting attendee was Larry Lamz who is a towboat driver for the Adaptive Water Ski program. He wants design one to be chosen to keep motor vehicles on the lake.

“I’d like to see them go with design one,” Lamz said. “Actually, I would like to see if the design one could be added to as far as if it did not work like expected if they could add to it closer to the other design.”

If the other design was chosen, the Adaptative Water Ski program would no longer be in business in the Colorado Springs area.

“So the closest place would be either Pueblo or Denver, which wouldn’t work,” Lamz said. “I mean, we have a lot of lakes. We have various lakes closer by, but they’re non-wake lakes, no motorized vessels allowed.”

Rodriguez said the next steps will be presenting the proposal as a staff item to the parks board on March 9 and then be presented to City Council.

If you were unable to attend the meeting this evening, you can submit an online public survey for the city to review until March 30.