seamy underside of Botany Pond
The Class of
1996 presented the University with one of the more original senior
gifts in U of C history: Duck Island, intended to provide the ducks
that swim in Botany Pond-also home to water lilies and goldfish-with
a marshy resting place. But when it came time to build the island,
the facilities services department decided that it was the perfect
opportunity to do a little-make that a lot-of work on the pond itself.
When work began
in April, Botany Pond hadn't undergone a major renovation in about
40 years. For more than a decade, the pond had been leaking one
million gallons of water per year, mostly into the basement of Ryerson
Physical Laboratory, which had needed five sump pumps running night
and day to stay relatively dry.
After the renovation
crew drained the pond and removed 42 inches of muck, explains University
planner Richard Bumstead, they were surprised to find that the original
concrete liner was in good condition. But, equally surprising, they
discovered not only walls topped by stepping stones, indicating
the pond had once been separated into chambers, but an undocumented
additional "pour" on the exterior wall of the pond. There were large
gaps between the old liner and this additional pour, which senior
project manager Kenneth Park guesses was done in 1959.
in specialists to epoxy the cracks, workers installed a new drainage
system, put down a layer of wash stone, and then returned much of
the pond's original muck, also replanting rhizomes from the lilies.
The crew then
created a "land form" for Duck Island. After putting in two concrete
rings to hold soil in place, the workers mounded muck around the
rings. Once the dirt settles, Park says, the island will be planted
with native marsh grasses. Though their new home isn't finished,
Bumstead reports that a drake and a hen have already been sighted.-K.S.