Can the LSU lakes be saved?

Composed of two main lakes—University and City Park—and four smaller bodies of water, the 275-acre recreational area known as the LSU lakes is among the most popular spot in Baton Rouge for scores of joggers, walkers, kayakers, anglers and picnickers. But as tranquil as they appear, the lakes are in peril. Authorities say they were not properly dug and have grown shallower since they were constructed as a Works Progress Administration project in the early 1930s. “There’s no question they are disappearing,” says LSU associate professor of hydrology Yi Jun Xu, who has studied the lakes’ water quality since 2008. “They’re in poor condition right now, and if we don’t do something, they will return to swamp.” While local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers believe they have the right plan to clean up the lakes, at $21.1 million it’s not cheap to implement. LSU, which owns the majority of the six lakes, doesn’t have the money, says Jason Soileau, assistant director of planning, design and construction for LSU Facility Services. “The university is facing challenges and difficult economic times right now. The lakes are highly important, and this is a good plan that provides sustainability, but we don’t have the funding.” Read the complete Business Report cover story by Maggie Heyn Richardson here.

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