File photo
Friends of Hicklin Lake (and their founder, Dick Thurnau - inset) are floating the idea of installing floating islands planted with native vegetation in the White Center lake. The plants could theoretically filter out pollutants and bring the lake back to a safe, recreational state, according to Thurnau.

Friends of Hicklin Lake excited about “Floating Island” prospect solving pollution woes

Friends of Hicklin Lake (the heavily polluted body of water in White Center’s Lakewood Park) met on April 12 to discuss the idea of installing floating islands planted with native vegetation that could theoretically filter contaminants out of the water and make it safe for recreation once again.

Friends founder Dick Thurnau shared a report from the meeting that he described as a preliminary gathering to get all the facts straight before presenting the idea to King County policymakers and budget allotters.

From Thurnau (edited for brevity):

Friends of Hicklin Lake meeting drew six high profile King County employees showing a great interest in Floating Island technology that we wish to pursue. Also members of NHUAC, Deputy Director of Technology Access Foundation (TAF), store front Deputy and a local resident that stated his family has lived here since 1913 attended.

This system of Floating Islands is highly efficient, using Mother Nature’s way of cleaning polluted waters by plantings of native vegetation on man-made islands, microbes attach to the vegetation roots and matrix platform to devour contaminates. They also provide shade, shelter and food for fish and water creatures

Hicklin Lake is our target area as it has a very long, in fact too long, history of polluted waters caused by drainage from 750 watershed acres (Salmon Creek Basin) flowing into this small 4 ½ acre lake.

A senior Surface water engineer presented an update on the White Center Regional Storm Water project that will work well in conjunction with our proposed Floating Islands.

Although Floating Islands function well without any other assistance, adding underwater air diffusers would to speed up the process and provide circulation to the bottom sediments and aerate the lake’s water, at the same time giving live saving oxygen to water creatures.

At (the April 12) meeting, there was discussion of the Floating Island concept, and a number of good questions were raised. We will forward these on to the Regional Representative, Laddie Flock, for answers. We may eventually invite him here to see our lake and speak to us directly about Floating Islands and their application at Hicklin Lake.

In the meantime, we encourage all community members to visit Floating Island International website, to learn as much as possible. It’s fascinating information.

Kevin Brown, Director of Parks, expressed interest in the Island concept, and also mentioned the possibility of restoring some of the lake’s actual wetland too, including removal of large amounts of sand on the “beach” that were not original.
It was gratifying to hear the level of interest and ideas presented.

The Rat city moniker attached to White Center is very disappointing, and to counteract we suggest an attraction. A water fountain on Hicklin Lake would provide a beautiful focal point, and with optional night lighting for evening’s enjoyment this could be the first step of needed change and also aerate the lake water at the same time. It could complement the Floating Island (or several of them).

If agreement should be reached on the viability of the Floating Island concept, the next step and battle would be funding. Our governing bodies seem to overspend on athletic programs, many of which are part time usage, while funding for a healthier environment falls short, such as the polluted waters of Hicklin Lake.

In days of yesteryear Lakewood Park / Hicklin Lake was a highly used facility for the community. For the coronation of Miss Southwest Seattle, the entire court arrived by Police motorcade. At the conclusion of Futurama days there was a tug of war between Burien Rotary and White Center Lions, the 13th naval district navy band supplied music, the aquatic ballet featuring the Aqua-maids (16 local girls) provided a water ballet trained by life guards on duty at Hicklin Lake, 101 gifts were given away including a new baby blue 1956 Volkswagen, and aerial fireworks over the lake started at 9:15, sponsored by White center Chamber.

Today this facility has instead become a free sports complex that has caused severe environmental damage to the Park, whose rules and regulations are not enforced.

Please join our effort to make Lakewood Park / Hicklin Lake an enjoyable attraction once again for the entire community.

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