Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Winter 2010

Old Lake in Hooper’s Memorial Park is New Again

The new Old Lake in Hooper’s Memorial Park.Hooper’s Memorial Park is located on city-owned land in the north part of the community adjacent to the golf course and established residential neighborhoods.

Memorial Park includes a swimming pool, ball fields, campground, and a shallow muddy segment of an old oxbow to the Elkhorn River. This old oxbow became known as Old Lake in the 1960’s when a levee was constructed around the north side of Hooper creating a four-surface-acre impoundment.

While the park facilities were heavily utilized, the lake was not. Water depths of less than two feet prevented a fishery from being established, and algae blooms were severe and frequent enough to warrant continuous treatment with chemicals.

In 2007, the City of Hooper -- located north of Fremont in northeastern Dodge County -- applied for and received Community Lake Enhancement And Restoration (CLEAR) funding in the amount of $211,240 through the Nebraska Environmental Trust and NDEQ/Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program.

Representatives from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and NDEQ worked with the city and Kirkham Michael Consultants on a complete renovation project that was fully completed by the end of 2008.

The excavation of 14,400 cubic yards of sediment increased maximum lake depths from two feet to over 12 feet. The shoreline of the lake was re-shaped to include fishing jetties, and part of the stormwater drainage was routed around the lake to help maintain good water quality. The lake was stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish in 2009.

As with many CLEAR projects, other park improvements followed, including handicap access to the lake and additional parking.

Education plays an important role in every CLEAR project. UNL initiated educational efforts with local residents and Immanuel Lutheran School in 2009. Students utilized scientific water quality equipment and sampling techniques to collect, analyze, compare and contrast water quality results.

Old Lake before.As a result of the event, students expressed an increased interest in water-quality-related issues. Fifty-one percent of the students prior to the event felt lake water quality was either extremely or very important. After the event that number increased to 71%.

Pre- vs. post-trip responses revealed a 26% increase in students understanding that it is extremely important to control nutrient inputs to keep a lake clean, with a 40% increase in their understanding that phosphorus is the most common nutrient pollutant that leads to poor water quality.

Once students generate interest in a subject, it is assumed there is an increased possibility the student will share the information offered with friends, family, etc. Nearly two-thirds indicated they were planning to share the information learned about improving and protecting water quality with their parents.

Significant improvements in water quality followed the project. Total phosphorus and total nitrogen in the lake were reduced by 82 percent and 87 percent respectively, and water clarity increased from a few inches to 28 inches.

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
1200 "N" Street, Suite 400
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
(402) 471-2186