Mirror Lake Renovation, Sustainability Improvements Continue

Mirror Lake, a well-known meeting spot on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, has been a notable university location for nearly 150 years. Originally a spring when the university was new, for many years the lake has been an artificially maintained system filled with water from the municipal water supply. Now, in order to save costs and make the lake’s existence sustainable, Mirror Lake is being renovated as part of Ohio State’s Sustainability Plan.

The President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability initiated the Mirror Lake Enhancement Study in 2011 to examine ways to resolve water loss in the lake and reduce the domestic water consumption of the lake. The lake was drained in November to examine the walls and floor as part of the study.

Mirror Lake drainage issues have cost the university more than $40,000 annually in recent years. Until it was drained, the lake was replenished with city water at a rate of about 50,000 gallons per day. The success of the Enhancement Study and the improvements made based on the study will eliminate this issue. The cost of the studies and redevelopment of Mirror Lake will total $28,520, with funding coming from the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability.

Enhancement plans include replacing the lake bottom with bentonite aggregate to seal the leaks as well as installing a groundwater well to test the quality and quantity of the ground water.

In addition to evaluating and improving the sustainability of the lake, the university is also redesigning the lake with the help of students, staff and faculty.

An open house was conducted March 20 to showcase three design options for the lake. Open house visitors voted for their favorite design, and their feedback is being considered for final development of the lake. Currently, a master plan is being developed based on feedback from the open house to begin reconstruction of the lake.

The three design options included a historical interpretation of the lake, an ethological park with open-green areas, and a plaza with concrete and additional seating.

Mirror Lake originated as a small spring, and over time became a stream and then a lake. It is best known for the Mirror Lake jump that occurs each year before the Ohio State/Michigan football game.