by Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lake Watauga at Centennial Park has had a problem with green, slimy algae recently. The effort to fix that problem has uncovered something not seen in 100 years.
Crews with Metro Parks are draining Lake Watauga and exposing a century's worth of sediment and garbage.
"I've never seen it look like this," said Tiffany Gibbs. "It's disgusting. People shouldn't do that."
Metro Parks Assistant Director of Planning Tim Netsch said it's all about to change. The lake is being drained and then will be dredged in order to keep the algae out.
"To our knowledge it's never been dredged," Netsch said. "It contains very high phosphorus content and that feeds the algae. So once the lake is drained we will dredge all that sediment out, we'll refill the lake with water."
Without the trash or phosphorus they hope the algae won't grow back.
A drained lake means a missing habitat for fish that Netsch said were moved to a different park, but the muddy debris offers a wildlife feast for others.
"There's nothing that the ducks and geese like more than these exposed, muddy edges. They love all the critters in there, so this is Thanksgiving for the ducks and the geese," Netsch said.
It will take a few weeks to finish draining, let the sediment dry and then dredge the bottom. Any rain would put crews further behind.
Once complete this spring, Lake Watauga will have new floating wetland islands with plants on the surface that have roots underwater to absorb any phosphorus to stop algae growth.
The project will eventually use an underwater spring and filtered rainwater runoff to keep it filled with clean water.