CA joining UM in study on improving Wilde Lake

June 24, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

The Columbia Association Board of Directors decided last night to join the University of Maryland in a study aimed at improving the quality of Wilde Lake, which has suffered from harmful algae blooms in recent years.

The association and Howard County government will contribute $18,750 each to participate in the $75,000, one-year stream channel study, evaluating ways to reduce stream erosion and the transport of sediment into Wilde Lake from its 1,200-acre watershed.

The watershed includes most of Wilde Lake Village, the Longfellow neighborhood of Harper's Choice Village and the Beaverbrook community.

"It's a proactive way of looking at stream erosion and stabilization for the whole area that flows into Wilde Lake," said association President Padraic Kennedy, who is on the board of directors along with the Columbia Council. "For a small cost, we could have much-leveraged results. A lot of land in that area belongs to CA."

The association recently completed a dredging project to remove sediment that had accumulated on Wilde Lake's floor. Sediment had decreased the depth of the lake and created more favorable conditions for algae blooms that harm fish and aquatic plants and organisms.

A group of Wilde Lake Village residents argued last month that the association had left too much sediment on the lake bottom. They expressed concern that the aesthetic quality of the lake -- one of Columbia's original amenities -- had been declining and that dredging might be required again in the near future.

Council members and association officials contended that money would be better spent by determining ways to reduce erosion upstream rather than expanding the scope of the dredging project.

Money for the study will be added to the association's $5.8 million fiscal 1995 capital budget. The association spent $286,000 less than anticipated on capital projects completed in fiscal 1994, savings which will be applied to this year's budget.

The board also approved borrowing $10 million through a bond sale to continue a refinancing program that lets the association buy back portions of its own debt and save money on interest payments. It is cheaper to issue new debt than to continue paying off debt issued years ago because the association is in its strongest financial position ever, say association officials.

The association has repurchased about $10 million of its debt from investors -- transactions that will translate to an estimated savings of $350,000 per year over the next five to six years, said Robert Krawczak, the association's financial director. The $10 million bond sale will increase the association's debt to about $91 million.

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