Colorado Springs reverses decision to close Prospect Lake to powerboats | Lifestyles

March 8—The city of Colorado Springs reversed its decision on Tuesday to close Prospect Lake to motor boating starting in May.

The lake will remain open to motorized boating through the summer following an outcry from the boating community and support from the Colorado Springs City Council to keep the lake open to all boats.

“Prospect Lake will be open for motorsports this summer, there’s no doubt about that,” Chief of Staff Jeff Greene told the council on Tuesday.

The city has also not determined whether the lake will be closed to motorized boating in the future to protect an aeration system planned to combat blue-green algae, he said.

Algae can thrive in warm, stagnant water and release toxins that cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and other health effects. Its presence has shut down Prospect Lake and other lakes around the state in recent years.

The city is in the design phase of a new aeration system that will be funded by a federal grant. Given the size and depth of the lake, recreation and administration manager Kim King said motorboats could pose a risk to the new system. The city had planned to install the new aeration system in May or July, but expects that to be pushed back to September, when the entire lake will likely close.

Alternatives to the aeration system the city has considered include a system with fountains that could help break up water tension and prevent algae growth, she said. Motorized watercraft could conflict with these fountains, she said. They could also conflict with other types of ventilation systems.

However, city officials can discuss the desire to keep motorized watercraft on the lake with the designer, she said.

Although management decisions on the lake are the responsibility of the municipal administration, council members Randy Helms, Mike O’Malley and Dave Donelson voiced their support Tuesday for keeping the lake open to motorized boaters, who have made shared their concern about the lake’s closure with council during recent town meetings.

“Let’s make it a lake where I want to take my grandson…that’s what I’m asking the administration to do,” O’Malley said.

Prospect Lake can accommodate five powerboats at a time on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The other three days of the week are reserved for non-motorized navigation.

Boaters pointed out in impassioned testimony that no other lakes are open to motorized boating in El Paso County and that some cannot afford to drive to Lake Pueblo or the Reservoir. Chatfield. They also pointed out that the city appeared to have made a decision in February on boating without consulting the public.

Among those pushing back against the city’s decisions were representatives from companies that specialize in aerating lakes, who said blue-green algae could be successfully prevented without closing the lake to motorboats.

Steve Dahmer, with Environmental Solutions in Rifle, said he is working on aeration and biological augmentation of lakes to prevent algae.

“We’re just fundamentally transforming the ecosystem of the lake. … It doesn’t interfere with any type of water recreation.”

Greene said the administration wanted to be sensitive to the city council’s desire to keep motorized boating on the lake throughout the planning process for an aeration system.

“Our goal is to find a solution,” he said.

Staff will keep city council updated on the progress of the aeration project, King said. Construction updates will also be available on the city’s website, she said.

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Earnest A. Martinez