Bryan planning to drain, excavate Municipal Lake for Regional Park improvements

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Big changes are being planned at the Bryan Municipal Lake.

As the city moves forward with its Regional Park plan, they now want to drain, excavate and improve the lake starting this summer.

That work is expected to cost more than $10 million.

The changes are something many residents in the area have wanted to see after environmental problems in the past.

Decades ago Elf Atochem, a fertilizer plant upstream polluted the lake with arsenic.

While it's been deemed safe by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, there are still concerns arsenic lies in the dirt underneath.

For Corky Vickers, it's a great place to feed the ducks. It's something he does daily.

He knows the murky past of this lake.

"Yeah, they need to clean this place up," said Vickers.

The city is working on permit approval with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to drain the lake this spring and excavate starting in June. They want to deepen the lake and improve it for aquatic life.

"The design has been underway with our consultant team on the Regional Park and part of that is the rehabilitation of the lake with that we will need to drain the lake, relocate any of the aquatic habitants that are there, fish in particular, have them relocated to another downstream within the same Burton Creek watershed. So that will be happening over the next few months," said Paul Kaspar, Bryan City Engineer.

Kaspar said they will test the soil for arsenic and dispose of what might be contaminated.

"We're being extra cautious with regards to the environmental concerns... We want to make sure we have a great project in the end and it's something the residents will enjoy and enjoy using in the community," Kaspar said.

"The actual construction work in the lake is contingent on Army Corps of Engineers' permits and receiving those," said Kaspar. "And we have submitted those beginning of January so they’re currently under review and hope to receive those in time to keep that project on our planned schedule."

Vickers hopes the lake will be better than ever..

"Just drain it, take care of the fish, take care of the turtles. I mean there's thousands of them out there and there's 22 ducks out here," said Vickers.

That work is expected to take at least a year and will heavily depend on the weather.

The city will also dig a bypass channel to keep lower amounts of rain from filling the lake during the work.

City staff also tell us they plan to spend another $2 million to build basins upstream to keep sediment from ending up in the lake after rain.