Highlands Biological Station installs cold water syphon in Lindenwood Lake

Upgrades at the Highlands Biological Station (HBS) are in full-swing and things are starting to take shape along the North Campus. One addition visitors won’t be seeing is HBS’ cold water syphon installed at the bottom of Ravenel (Lindenwood) Lake.

The roof was recently crane-lifted into place on the pavillion and a cold-water syphon was installed at the bottom of the lake.

What is a cold-water syphon?

Imagine a giant-bendy straw that goes from the bottom of the Lake and empties into Mill Creek. HBS Project Coordinator Sonya Carpenter said the reason for the syphon is two-fold.

“It’s part of our obligation to the Army Corps of Engineers for our upgrades and it’s a way to impact thermal pollution,” said Carpenter.

Sonya Carpenter stands near the release point of the cold-water syphon into Mill Creek. The other end is at the bottom of Lindenwood Lake.

Lindenwood Lake (called Ravenel Lake on Google Maps) is man-made and when Mill Creek was dammed up to create the lake, it increased the surface area of water that overflows into the Creek. The problem is, the water on the surface gets much warmer than water at the bottom of the Lake.

If the warm water from the surface flows into Mill Creek, it causes problems to habitats more accustomed to cooler temperatures. With the syphon in place, it sucks water from the bottom of the Lake and only transfers cooler water into the Creek.

“The water at the surface is exposed to more solar radiation,” said Carpenter. “The transfer of the colder water out into the Creek minimizes artificial impediment and keeps our mountain streams cold and clear as they should be.”

The syphon releases cold water from the bottom of the lake into Mill Creek without damaging the habitat downstream.

Other project updates

Other upgrades on HBS’ North Campus include building a teaching pavilion next to Lindenwood Lake, improving the entrance to HBS from Lower Lake Road, creating a pollinator garden on the slope adjacent to the Lake, and making some upgrades to the nature trail that loops around the Lake.

The new teaching pavilion on the shores of Lindenwood Lake.

A crane was recently used to put the roof on top of the new-teaching pavilion’s steel frame. Carpenter said the pavilion will also have a living roof.

Pictured below is the crane placing the roof on the pavilion. Photos courtesy of Sonya Carpenter.

The boardwalk throughout HBS’ campus is coming together, too. Read more about the boardwalk HERE.

“The boardwalk goes around the Lake and connects to existing trails in a more user-friendly way,” said Carpenter. “Families, children, adults, anyone can walk around and enjoy their visit.”

Even newly formed, the pollinator garden was buzzing with activity.

The pollinator garden includes a terraced-living wall that Carpenter said will mimic a natural meadow only using native plants. As of October, there are approx. 8,000 plants in the garden.

The pollinator garden at HBS has almost 8,000 native pollinator-friendly plants.

“We’re adding pollinator-friendly plants to the garden to create additional habitat,” said Carpenter. “And we’re hoping it serves as an example of building technologies that are more harmonious with our landscape.”

The terraced-living wall enveloping the pollinator garden.

Working on the pavilion at the Highlands Biological Station.

A renovated bridge along the trail going around the lake.

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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