Lakes don’t get COVID but, in lake terms, the toxic algae bloom that glows green on the water’s surface is equally as dangerous to Sloan’s Lake as well as its fish and other inhabitants. It can be harmful to humans and pets as well. On July 22, the Denver Parks & Recreation department issued an edict; “Warning Sloan’s Lake Deadly Algae. Due to the health risk posed by increasing blue-green algae bloom, Sloan’s Lake is temporarily closed until further notice. All recreational water activities are prohibited. Park visitors should not allow their children or pets in or near the water.”
Rising heat, shallow depth, – an average of a little more than three feet ‒ and poor hydraulics resulting in an inability of the lake to flush itself clean have combined for the illness affecting the body of water we all enjoy so much.
Despite repeated attempts to define the problems and potential solutions including dredging, structural improvements like forebays at storm outfalls to filter incoming water, detention of high velocity storm flows for a slow release allowing heavier solids to settle out before the water enters the lake, and removal of bottom sediment, the lake still faces challenges. One of those is that all solutions take both money and neighborhood muscle.The lake continues to suffer from unhealthy street runoff – its major source of water. No remedy will fix the lake until the runoff problem is addressed, say water quality experts. Complicating matters, the majority of the watershed feeding the lake – six-square miles – is outside of the city of Denver: Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, and other parts of Jefferson County.
If you are interested in getting involved at a grassroots level, you can start with one lake advocate: The Sloans Lake Park Foundation (SLPF). Established in 2019, the non-profit foundation’s goal is to “ensure the environmental health, sustainability and beauty of one of Denver’s top urban natural assets. Our focus is on water quality that supports the lake ecosystem as well as a variety of recreational uses. The result will be the preservation of Sloan’s Lake for generations to come.”
The Foundation’s first effort is to build awareness of the issues facing the lake, followed by generating public support for the long-term and costly remedies necessary.
It is off to a great start with many initiatives underway to save our lake. You can do your part by participating.
■ On August 9, Denver Parks & Recreation launched a survey with 15 students from Lincoln Hills Cares to understand the lake’s primary usage, constituents, and needs. Based on information gathered, SLPF and the Denver Parks and Rec Department will host educational community meetings during the fall at Sloan’s Lake RNOs and local businesses to educate neighbors on simple ways they can help through water usage and environmentally friendly products in their homes, and other ways to get involved. Emily Zeller, Youth Program Administrator for Denver Parks & Rec, noted, “Our job is to make our youth stewards of the land by educating them about the lake habitat, wildlife and dangers of global warming. Our goal at Parks & Rec is to be more proactive about solving the lake problems in the long-term, versus band aid solutions.”
To weigh in on the survey go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7YWGK3T
■ On August 14, Little Man Ice Cream held a “Campout for a Cause…to Save Sloan’s Lake” including Old Fuss & Feathers’ bluegrass band, boozy shakes, a silent disco, and silent movies by CiferNoiseProductions that raised money in support of the cause.
■ September 18 brings Jamming on the Jetty, the foundations’ signature event launched in 2016 by A.J. Steinke, an SLPF founder and board member. Bands, food, drink, and fun will ensue from 2 to 7 p.m.: Yoga kicks off the day with Orange Theory, followed by entertainment from Lake Middle School student D.J. Noellz, The Sugar Factory, Optyc Nerd, and headliner band, The Brothers of Brass. Food from Edgewater Marketplace, beer and other beverages from Joy Ride Brewing, Oasis Brewery, Barquentine, and La Diabla. Games and a Kids Zone make it a family-friendly affair. Admission is as inexpensive as it can get: FREE. For more information on Jamming on the Jetty, check out the cover story in this month’s issue.
The foundation’s initial fundraising goal is $50,000. The community has rallied with support raising over $32,000 to date through sponsorship donations from Jenny Apel of Nostalgic Homes Group/Compass Real Estate, Sooper Credit Union, Workshop Colorado, Exact Title, Central Bank & Lending, Nava Development, Edgewater Marketplace, Little Man Ice Cream, and Hatch Realty among others.
The foundation appreciates recent work by Denver Parks and Recreation in water quality testing, lake-depth studies, the installation of a test water aerator, and the survey of lake users to determine their level of awareness of the lake issues, their usage patterns, and their home cities. All will be helpful in planning for the future.
Old Thomas Sloan didn’t know what he was doing when in 1861 he dug a hole for a well, tapping an underground spring that was the beginning of a 20-acre body of water that is a huge part of our neighborhood. The lake has seen an amusement park, a gun club, ice skating, and multi-level cruise boats come and go. Sadly, in not too many generations the lake itself will go as well if steps aren’t taken now to rescue our treasure.
The Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation is seeking community involvement, donations, and volunteers for Jamming on the Jetty, lake clean-ups, and future events. Be part of the movement to save our lake by contacting the foundation at www.sloanslakeparkfoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Basha Cohen and Dennis Ryerson are members of the Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation board