Friday, February 15, 2008

There's lakes, and then there's "lakes"...

A recent Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego article about the possible drying of of "Lake" Mead above the Hoover Dam had me curious about the fate of Arizona and the rest of the southwest, but mainly it got me thinking again about what bodies of water we call "lakes". We need some better word that describes large manmade, reservoirs and other engineered water features that, generally speaking, have ecologically dead (if existent) shorelines. This characteristic is a shame, as the wetland transitions between land and water that should exist are very richly diverse in terms of ecology. Sometimes these "lakes" are not as arid or artificial looking as Lake Mead or Lake Powell, but they never look quite right. Lake Merritt, in Oakland, CA, for example, has a hard-edge shoreline that just drops off into the water.
There's one little swatch of beach that I can recall around the mile plus perimeter, and then there's the backflow dam to prevent tidal flux from affecting the water level too much and to let stormwater push its way out.

Anyhow, I don't know these constructed Fake-Lakes, Flakes, etc. should be called, but don't try and confuse people into thinking they're lake ecologies because you can drive a jetski in them. We shouldn't take for granted such large engineering feats, or else we start to forget about them as artificial, and the next thing you know we assume the water will always be there. Then you wake up one day and the "Lake" is dry.

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