The Joliet Junior College Lake is a central aesthetic feature of the main campus.
The 5.8 acre lake has a 362 acre watershed which includes the college campus; parking lots; wooded, farm and open fields; and residential and commercial developments. The JJC Lake is eutrophic; this condition causes water quality degradation.
A grant-funded rehabilitation project is underway to restore the natural beauty and ecological health of the JJC Lake. Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from surrounding lawns and agricultural fields flow into the lake through storm water runoff. Nutrient-rich sediments accumulate, causing an explosion of plant and algal growth. This depletes oxygen levels, which leads to fish kills. The accumulation of sediment has also reduced the lake's water-holding capacity by 20 percent. The rehabilitation efforts will address these issues with the goal of restoring the quality, health and natural beauty of the lake.
- 6,300 cubic yards of sediment will be dredged from the lake and distributed on the college's agricultural fields; after dewatering, the nutrient-rich sediment will be spread over the Ag field
- Best management practices (BMP's) will be established and implemented to reduce non-point source pollution and ensure the long-term health of the lake
- Separators and Wetland Swale will be installed to filter runoff water from the parking lots
- Bioswales and a Bio-Filter Cell will be installed to filter runoff water from agricultural fields, grass fields and residential areas before it enters the lake
- Native plant species will be planted along the shoreline to prevent soil erosion
- Unsightly floating debris, odor problems and sediment buildup will be reduced
- A clean, healthy habitat for fish, wildlife and native plant species will be restored
- Approximately two feet will be added to the depth of the lake on average, restoring the lake's water-holding capacity
- Education and research opportunities will be increased
- This campus asset will continue to provide an outdoor laboratory for JJC faculty & students
Funding for this project provided, in part, by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.
Lake Management Facts
JJC Lake Serves The Campus, Community and Watershed
The JJC Lake has been subjected to stress due to urbanization and natural factors. If the lake is not properly managed, or if properties that drain to the lake contribute pollutants, the functions of the lake can be significantly degraded.
Property owners within the lake watershed can actively participate in the preservation of the lake. The following benefits are provided by the lake:
- Recreation, open space, and diverse plant and animal habitat
- Pleasing environment
- Vibrant fishery and fish habitat
- Flood control and stormwater management
Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides applied to lawns, agricultural fields, or properties can end up in the lake. These chemicals can be carried during rainstorms in drainage water that ultimately drains into the JJC Lake. These chemicals and nutrients have a significant impact on the quality of the lake, contributing to noxious plant growth, fish kills, and algae blooms and die-offs. Organic sediment deposits have reduced the original lake water volume by 20 percent. Soil eroded during rainstorms also finds its way into the lake. As a result of these factors, the lake depth has been reduced by one to two feet.
What You Do on Your Property Can Dramatically Affect Lake Water Quality
The JJC Lake is a living body containing many organisms. When these organisms are in balance, the water quality is good, the lake is clean and attractive, and fish and wildlife habitat are abundant.
JJC Lake is periodically out of balance resulting in excessive algae growth causing:
- Unsightly floating debris
- Odor problems
- Sediment buildup
Lake algae growth can be impacted by watershed land management activities. Following is a typical algae growth cycle:
- Rain water that runs off from upstream property ends up in the lake.
- Substances placed on lawns, driveways, roads and farm fields can be washed by rainwater into the lake.
- This nutrient-laden water provides fuel for algae growth.
- Excess algae growth can rob the water of oxygen causing algae die-off.
- Dead algae is unsightly, produces odor and settles to the lake bottom.
- Dead algae reduces water depth.
- Sediment buildup reduces lake water volume.
- Sediment decomposes and further reduces oxygen and releases more nutrients to the water.
Special points of interest
- Rain water leaving your property ends up in the lake.
- Excess fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides applied to lawns finds its way to the lake and degrades water quality.
- Eroded soil and organic sediment in the lake bottom have reduced the lake volume by 20 percent in 30 years, and depths are one to two feet less than historic levels.
- Animal waste, sediment, de-icing salts, pesticides, herbicides, oil and grease from impervious or agricultural lands can find their way into the lake.
- Fishkills have occurred as fish are choked by oxygen shortages caused by water quality problems.
What Can You Do to Help Protect and Restore the JJC Lake?
Your actions can have a significant beneficial impact on lake water quality and appearance. The following actions will make a big difference:
- Do not apply fertilizer within 20 feet of the lake shoreline or grassed rainwater swales throughout the community.
- Use fertilizer with no phosphorous content if possible (10-0-10 nit-phospot ratio), or lowest phosphorous level available. Use a max. application rate of one pound nitrogen per 1,000 ft2. Limit applications to a max. of four times each season. Do not apply fertilizer before or after heavy rainfall. Lightly soak fertilizer with each application. Use granular instead of liquid fertilizers.
- Do not mow shoreline areas.
- Keep dead leaves and animal waste out of drainage swales and the lake.
- Report soil erosion to JJC.
- Minimize agricultural pesticide and herbicide applications.
- Keep your driveways and sidewalks free of oil, grease and other suburban pollutants. Maintain your vehicles so they don’t leak fluids.
- Become familiarized with your watershed. The committee has a detailed report on file for your review.
- Minimize use of deicing chemicals.
These simple steps will help improve future lake water quality. JJC is doing its part by investigating methods to mitigate problems caused in the past.