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A great egret wades through thick algae in City Park Lake, which is adjacent to University Lake, seen Thursday, August 20, 2020, near LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

A project to restore six lakes around the LSU campus took another step Friday with the announcement of three companies that will begin design and sample work.

Sasaki, a Massachusetts-based firm, was given a contract to deliver master design services for the project. Two other companies, GeoEngineers and Lafayette-based Fenster, were also selected to conduct environmental studies and surveys.

The six lakes around LSU's campus have suffered degradation over the years, particularly areas that have seen vegetation overgrowth and sedimentation build-up.

Observers say it's led to an increase in fish kills, which have been made worse because of the lakes' shallow depths. At an average of about 3.5 feet deep, water around the lakes often get too warm and cause algae, duckweed and other vegetation to grow excessively.

The University Lakes Project was formed by LSU Real Estate and Facilities Foundation, an affiliate of the LSU Foundation, to address those issues around the lakes.

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They selected the three firms after public bids, and an evaluation team this week made a final selections.

The overall project is expected to be rolled out in separate phases, with construction beginning in the fall of 2021.

Early phases include renovations around City Park and Campus Lakes, such as creating more bike and pedestrian trails.

East Baton Rouge Parish, BREC and the Louisiana Office of Community Development, earmarked $15 million for the project's first phase this summer.

State and local leaders also corralled nearly $50 million last year to clean the lakes. Previously, the project had been in limbo for more than a decade, as the various entities that oversee the lakes struggled to find enough money. 

The lakes are owned by three separate entities. City Park Lake and Lake Erie, a small body of water to its east, are owned by the city-parish and maintained by BREC. The other four lakes — Campus, College, Crest and University — are owned by LSU.


Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com, and follow him on Twitter @youssefrddad