Bryan Lake Once Thought Dangerous is Safe, According to State Agency

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BRYAN - A lot of attention is being focused on the Bryan Municipal Golf Course and surrounding land. A proposal brought to Bryan City Council wants to put a super park at that location, with multi-sport playing fields.

It wasn't that long ago, that the land and water in the Municipal lake next to the golf course was polluted with arsenic. That has some residents worried that the super park proposal would strike out. One state agency is saying the lake is safe.

"It's crazy, the size of those bass," said Allen Gill. He was fishing at the Municipal lake Wednesday morning. He knows firsthand the fish can be bigger.

"I've seen 5 [pounds] caught. A friend of mine, he's caught a couple of them. They take'em straight to the house," said Gill. With fish that big, it's hard not to think dinner. That wasn't always the case with fish caught at the Municipal lake.

"Arsenic was identified in the area and then downstream from Pennwalt which includes Bryan Municipal Lake," explained Bryan Deputy City Manager Hugh Walker. In the 1980s, Pennwalt, now called Arkema, was caught releasing hazardous materials into Finfeather Lake, which flowed south into the Municipal lake.

Back in 2012, the water and all the land around the lake was cleared by the state. The levels of contamination were well below the state standard. Its what's under the water that could cause a problem. The state says the lake bottom is off limits. There are still traces of arsenic there that, if disturbed, could cause an issue.

"We've heard through citizens and other comments that arsenic is a problem and we want to make sure that folks understand the area is safe," explained Walker.

The plant Arkema owned is no longer standing in Bryan. They've paid $1.4 million in remediation costs to the state and federal government. Signs warning residents to stay out of the water were taken down two years ago.

The fish are plentiful and the lake's past isn't stopping people from catching their next meal.

"I gotta good friend that, if I do catch'em, I give them to him and he take them straight to 'Crisco Lake,' as he say," laughed Gill.

Ideas for moving the municipal golf course, and putting a super park in its place are set for further discussion at a future city council meeting.

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