Celebrating Lakes Appreciation Month
Did you know July is Lakes Appreciation Month? We have to say, this occasion is easy to celebrate here in Columbia — we love our lakes!
CA is proud to own and maintain three lakes (Lake Elkhorn, Lake Kittamaqundi and Wilde Lake) and 41 ponds. On the Piedmont Plateau where all of Howard County sits, all of our lakes and ponds are man-made reservoirs. These bodies of water have several important roles: aesthetics, recreation, stormwater management and flood control. From fishing and kayaking, to absorbing rainfall and providing a home for wildlife, they enhance our community in a number of ways.
Let’s dive in with some fun facts…
Lake Kittamaqundi is a 27-acre lake that was built in 1966. The name means “Place of the Great Beaver,” though there’s a long-standing misconception that it means “meeting place.” However, the area around Lake Kittamaqundi is a community-oriented site referred to as “the lakefront” (as in Lakefront Live!).
If you’re interested in a full explanation of the name, you can learn more here thanks to the Columbia MD Archives.
You can enjoy all sorts of activities at Lake Kitt, like fishing, boating and kayaking. There’s also a beautiful trail available, which connects to various other paved trails.
At 37 acres, Lake Elkhorn was built as one of Columbia’s largest lakes in 1974. The lake depth averages eight feet, and is 15 feet at its deepest point.
More than 100 species of birds have been observed around Lake Elkhorn by participants in the Great Backyard Bird Count, and you can also see a large variety of dragonflies and damselflies. Come stroll the 2-mile paved loop trail around the lake to spot the wildlife yourself!
Wilde Lake was constructed back in 1966 and flows downstream into Lake Kittamaqundi. It also features a dam that stands 15 feet high and 200 feet wide (pictured below).
The lake depth ranges from 13 feet at the back of the dam to nearly eight feet in the lake’s center. Like Lake Kitt and Lake Elkhorn, it features a paved trail so you can enjoy the views!
While you’re out and about enjoying our lakes, keep an eye out for Chompers! CA invested in our first aqua mower in the late 1980s, but Chompers got his official name in a contest in 2021 (shout-out to our winner, Quintin). Today, CA has a “fleet” of four aqua mowers, which you can think of as underwater lawn mowers.
Here’s how it works: The sickle bar on the sides and front of the vessel cuts through aquatic plants and invasive weeds. Then, the material is moved to the conveyor belt on the back. Once it’s full, this material is loaded onto a trailer and composted (did you know lake weeds make an excellent compost?).
A huge benefit is that it doesn’t “kill” vegetation like chemicals do. Instead, it provides a trim to scale vegetation to a healthier level. This leaves behind living plants that continue to enhance oxygen levels for other organisms. It also releases nutrients back into the water that were trapped in the vegetation. Ultimately, our aqua mowers restore the natural ecology of the lakes and encourage the growth of healthy native plant communities, fish and wildlife.
Did you know there are 41 of these hidden gems around Columbia? Ponds are defined as a small body of still water formed naturally, or by hollowing or embanking.
Many of our bodies of water have floating wetlands that provide food and shelter for fish and aquatic insects, reduce pollutants in the water, and provide habitat for butterflies and birds.
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Lakes Appreciation Month is a great opportunity to reflect and appreciate the lakes and ponds that make Columbia such a lovely place to live. You can learn more about CA’s watershed management here.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tag us in your photos and videos the next time you’re out and about in open space. You might just see them shared with our thousands of CA followers!