Return of the Water Lotus

Water lotuses have spread to cover a large portion of Inspiration Lake in Kentlands.

This summer, Inspiration Lake appears to again have been overtaken by water lilies, creating a beautiful yet odd sight for the many Kentlands residents who run, bike or do other exercises around the lake.

According to Jim Arnoult, director of the city of Gaithersburg’s Department of Public Works, the huge, flowering water-plants are not, in fact, water lilies. They are called water lotuses and, said Arnoult, were probably brought in by local water fowl.

The lotus plants were also a distinct presence last summer but mostly died out during the winter. However, the mild winter and early spring probably caused this year’s new, robust crop.

So far, the water lotus plants, although they appear to be commanding a large portion of Inspiration Lake, are not considered invasive. Conversely, they actually do “create habitats, and improve water quality,” said Arnoult. But his department is monitoring the situation should it get out of hand.

If the lotuses do eventually become a problem, chemicals will be applied in the autumn. But the Dept. of Public Works views the application of chemicals to be a last resort and won’t make the decision to use them lightly. “Right now,” Arnoult said, “we are taking a wait-and-see.”

Residents may also have noticed another issue in Inspiration Lake recently. A thick presence of algae had been steadily growing on the end of the lake closest to the Kentlands Mansion. After a few months of observation, the Department of Public Works purchased a special sonar called Sonic Solution to be used to disperse the invading green sludge. The sonar works by breaking apart algae particles with each reverberation.

The same sonar system was implemented last summer on Lake Varuna in Lakelands, reversing the problem in a matter of weeks. Arnoult anticipated the problem would be resolved just as quickly in Kentlands’ Inspiration Lake.

At press time, the algae growth was already significantly diminished.