BRAF seeks input on improving Baton Rouge Lakes _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- An environmental study details that the Baton Rouge Lakes are too shallow.

An environmental study commissioned by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation found that five out of six of the Baton Rouge Lakes are too shallow, confirming the need to dredge the lakes to prevent them from reverting to swampland.

In March, BRAF announced the project “Destination: The Lakes,” a plan to deepen the lakes and improve the pathways and amenities in the surrounding areas in conjunction with other stakeholders including LSU, city-parish government, BREC and various state agencies.

BRAF commissioned the study by GEC Inc. of Baton Rouge, which will be integrated into the master plan of solutions and infrastructure improvements for the lakes.

The study found that University Lake, which benefitted from incomplete dredging in the 1980s, is now an average of 4 feet deep. City Park Lake is about 2.8 feet deep.

Erie Lake, the small lake connected to City Park Lake, is only 2.2 feet deep.

Campus Lake, behind the LSU dorms, is 3.4 feet deep on average, and College Lake, across the street, is 5.6 feet deep — the only lake considered to be at a healthy depth. On Dalrymple Drive, Crest Lake is 4.7 feet.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the average depth of a healthy lake is at least 5 feet.

The good news is that soil samples showed the material dredged from deepening the lakes would be able to support the planned shoreline improvements, which include improved paths.

In June, BRAF and a group of stakeholders selected SWA Group and Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects to draft a master plan for the lakes’ restoration.

Master planning is expected to cost about $750,000, which has already been secured from donors by BRAF.

The master plan also will include financing options for the actual dredging and infrastructure of the lakes project.