Ohio State University has emptied Mirror Lake as it seeks ways to make the landmark less of a fiscal and environmental drain. The university replenishes the lake at a rate of about 50,000 gallons per day - 18.25 million gallons per year - through a water system at nearby Pomerene Hall, a spokeswoman said. Assuming that water is purchased from the city at the largest volume discount available, it costs the university more than $40,000 a year to keep the lake filled.
Ohio State University has emptied Mirror Lake as it seeks ways to make the landmark less of a fiscal and environmental drain.
The university replenishes the lake at a rate of about 50,000 gallons per day — 18.25 million gallons per year — through a water system at nearby Pomerene Hall, a spokeswoman said. Assuming that water is purchased from the city at the largest volume discount available, it costs the university more than $40,000 a year to keep the lake filled.
The university plans to enter into a $24,000 contract with Columbus-based consultant EMH&T for the study, which will evaluate issues related to the sustainability, safety and aesthetic nature of the lake and its environs. The university originally contracted with the EDGE Group, which was founded by Eddie George, the Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner who was hired last December as an assistant vice president of the university.
EDGE withdrew from the contract “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” university spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said in a prepared statement.
Study results are expected early next year, but no target date has been set for refilling the lake, which is likely to remain empty for several months, Komlanc said.
After the consultant’s recommendations are shared with the faculty, staff, students and alumni, steps will be taken to make the lake more sustainable. They could include finding ways to use rainwater and other reclaimed water to replenish the lake, replacing part or all of the lake bottom, and improving operation and maintenance.
“It’s a significant part of our campus, and will always remain an iconic part of our landscape,” Komlanc said.
The lake, which varies from 2 1/2 feet to 8 feet deep and holds about 1 million gallons when filled, is the site of an annual jump that typically draws thousands of people the week of the Ohio State-Michigan football game. Last week, the university tried to control the ritual by registering students and requiring wristbands. Students protested by showing up a night earlier.
“The jump has nothing to do with the sustainability study,” Komlanc said.
Yesterday, five university workers who were cleaning up after the annual jump had collected piles of waterlogged, dirty clothes; flip-flops; and a small inflatable beach ball scrawled with an obscenity and Michigan. One of the workers reassured a concerned bystander that the lake’s ducks had been relocated elsewhere on campus.
The university couldn’t say how much of the 50,000 gallons overflows into the city’s storm sewers, as it was designed to do, and how much is leaking to other locations.
Given the scarcity of water faced by a significant portion of the world’s population, “ Certainly, we should be doing our part to conserve what we can,” Komlanc said.