Going with the Flow
Furman Lake is an iconic part of the campus, but its water quality has degraded with time. Beginning in 2006, the university dedicated itself to improving the environmental quality of the 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 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 lake quality continues to improve. Recently, a series of floating islands were installed to help trap sediment and take up nutrients entering the lake from one of the feeder streams.