County Gets Grants to Install Floating ‘Islands’ on White Center’s Hicklin Lake

King County announced Monday (Feb. 25) that it has received grant funding from the state, and will install floating ‘islands’ to treat White Center’s troubled Hicklin Lake for excess phosphorous and other pollutants.

“In addition to the ongoing work of finding and eliminating illegal and inadvertent sewer connections that discharge pollutants into the stormwater system that flows into the lake, this year King County will experiment with technology that uses floating “islands” of vegetation to capture excess nutrients in the water that lead to Hicklin Lake’s water quality problems,” reads an announcement.

The county received a $50,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology Algae Control Program, and will use that to install four floating islands this summer and measure their effectiveness.

Each floating island is 250 square feet in size and built of a durable polycarbonate, anchored in place.

The islands are perforated with dozens of holes that are planted with a variety of native wetland species. The plants’ roots will reach into lake as they grow, where they will take up excess nutrients.

A bio-film of microscopic organisms that forms along the bottom of the floating islands and the plant roots will also take up nutrients from the water.

King County staff will take monthly water quality samples from locations throughout the lake to test the islands’ effectiveness at absorbing pollutants for three summers.

The project is expected to start this spring and will be completed by June 2015 at a total cost of more than $86,000.

Hicklin Lake water quality has been a concern for years, with elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and phosphorus, as well as a history of harmful algae blooms that have posed potential health threats to people, pets and wildlife.

The lake has been treated twice with alum to reduce phosphorus levels – first in 2005 and again in 2011. It is hoped that the floating islands will prove to be effective and will help to reduce the need for alum application or types of in-lake nutrient controls.

Hicklin Lake – formerly known as ‘Hicks Lake’ is located in Lakewood Park in White Center:

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