Six months removed from an oil spill that penetrated the northern reaches of Silver Lake, the city of Highland has commissioned a study that will outline options for protecting and enhancing the lake’s water quality and habitat.
The Highland City Council on Jan. 19 unanimously agreed to hire a Springfield, Ill.-based waterway consulting firm Berrini and Associates LLC to complete a preliminary water quality evaluation of Silver Lake.
Peter Berrini, a professional geologist and certified lake professional, will prepare the report. It should be completed within the next 90 days.
Berrini said the report will be a “good refresher” for the city, which completed a similar study in 2008, when it hired the firm HDR | Cochran & Wilken Inc. to complete a diagnostic study. That study had to goal of identifying and quantifying existing water quality problems and other factors affecting the reservoir’s recreational, aesthetic and ecological qualities.
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The scope of the new report will supplement the previous study and will include:
▪ an evaluation of current and historical water quality data;
▪ a summary of current lake and watershed conditions;
▪ an evaluation of potential water quality enhancement options for reducing phosphorus loading and blue-green algal blooms;
▪ identify several potential in-lake enhancement projects, and evaluating current watershed conditions to preliminarily identify potential sediment and nutrient load reduction opportunities;
▪ provide a list of potential action items for discussion and consideration; and
▪ summarize the findings of this preliminary evaluation for consideration and future planning efforts by the city.
City officials anticipate Berrini’s study will cost less than $3,400.
Mark Rosen, director of the city’s Park’s and Recreation Department, said he is looking forward to seeing the completed study.
“In the future, the city might be able to offer some educational opportunities to allow more people to view some diverse flora and fauna, basically in our own backyard at the lake,” he said.
“This study is the first step in this process,” he said.
Since the last study was completed, Rosen said the upper northern third of the lake has developed a natural habitat.
Berrini reached out to the city about completing the latest study after an oil spill happened last July at a Plains All American Pipeline (Plains) pumping station near Baumann and Pocahontas roads, near the Bond-Madison county line, northeast of Highland.
The unmanned pumping station is part of the Capwood pipeline, a 20-inch conduit that connects an oil storage facility near Patoka, Ill., with the refinery in Wood River.
Plains said it contained a portion of the spill at the pump station site before it reached Little Silver Creek, which feeds into Silver Lake. Silver Lake serves as Highland’s water supply. Highland also supplies water to the villages of Grantfork, Pierron and St. Jacob from the lake.
About Silver Lake
Silver Lake is located approximately one mile northwest of Highland on Illinois 143. The 550-acre lake was constructed in 1962 to provide a reliable water source to the city.
The Highland Silver Lake watershed covers approximately 30,688 acres of land. Two main tributaries of Silver Creek enter the lake from the north, East Fork Silver Creek and Little Silver Creek.
Several smaller inlet channels and storm drains enter the lake system at various points along 12 miles of shoreline. When built, Silver Lake had a maximum depth of 30 feet and a average depth of 14 feet.
In 2004, Silver Lake was placed on the Illinois Section 303(d) List Impaired Waters as a water body that was not meeting its designed uses. Based on that listing, a Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) study was completed in October 2006 for Highland Silver Lake in an attempt to improve the lake, where it can fully support its designated uses: aquatics life, fish consumption, swimming and public water supply. The findings and recommendations of the TMDL Report, along with this Clean Lakes Phase 1 Report, served as a basis for funding and/or grants to design, implement, and complete various restoration activities within Highland Silver Lake and its watershed.
In early 2008, four solar powered circulars (Solar Bees) were installed within the lake. The units were positioned near the water supply intake in an attempt to control blue green algae and reduce subsequent taste and odor issues associated with the public water supply. The lower level emergency outlet was also repaired in 2008.
Silver Lake Fish Status Summary
Abundant but most are 6 inches or less.
Fish collected in the last survey were between 22 and 27 inches with an average weight of over 5 lbs.
Fishing can be good, with lots of 9 to 10 inch fish.
All size classes are abundant and in good condition.
Quality is very good with most over 8 inches and many over 9 inches.
Stocked annually in the lake in recent years, there have been several reports of good catches near the dam.
Source: Illinois Department of Natural Resources