College Lake drained, officials hope to use it as an 'educational space'

Lake drained to allow divers to do inspection

LYNCHBURG, Va. – College Lake was drained Wednesday so a diver could inspect the emergency pipe that is used to drain the lake if it gets too full.

If the lake fills up with water again, it could be used as an educational space. 

Laura Henry-Stone is a professor at the Universtiy of Lynchburg and is also the liaison between the city and the school when deciding what to do with the now-dry college lake.

"We already have used College Lake for a lot of our class, coursework and various disciplines and we're excited to see what happens with the lake bed," Stone said.

The city drained the lake last week after heavy rain flooded the lake and damaged parts of the bridge.

"The reason we have it drained is to ensure public safety. The main purpose behind why we are using it as a retention basin is so that when we have the larger storms come through, we will see start seeing the reservoir fill up again. We can use that to capture the water so that we don't have it over the roadway," said Jess Gearing, with water resources. 

While the lake bed dries up, Stone says it won't take long before vegetation grows here. To avoid this, it could mean manipulating some of the land. 

"We have the opportunity to now divert some of the water turning into that creek and into low lying areas of the lake bed and turn it into a wetland. which means more standing water for wildlife habitat, for ecological study."

Stone says that in the future, they'd also like to see boardwalks for outside classrooms, "rather than letting it grow out to a weeding mess. That is definitely not what we want." 

University officials say restoring the lake bed could cost millions.

"It could be expensive to do a full-scale wetlands restoration and that's definitely going to be one of our challenges ... figuring how to fund this."

Stone says if the lake bed is still exposed, the new growing season will pick up next spring and they hope to take advantage of it then. 

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