A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The algae mystery: Swan vs. Waverly Lake

Written June 19th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

The first Swan Lake, photographed from Bain Street on June 15, had no visible algae.

This needs an explanation: How come Albany’s Waverly Lake is once again sporting unsightly rafts of algae while the Swan Lakes, just upstream on Cox Creek, appear to be completely clear?

Albany Parks went to considerable trouble and expense to get rid of algae in Waverly Lake, paying a company to “harvest” the green mess last summer and to install aerators and a fountain this year.

The fountain and aerators have been spraying and bubbling away, but part of the lake is again covered with green growth.

The parks department has announced that it would launch its fleet of rental paddle boats on Waverly Lake today (June 20). Will people manage to pedal those craft through the messy parts of the lake? We’ll just have to wait to find out.

But the mystery is how the Swan Lakes, especially the first one east of Bain Street, can stay so clear while at Waverly the algae problem seems so difficult to beat.

There has to be an answer. If someone has it, please let the rest of us know. (hh)


Paddle boats are ready for action starting June 20 in algae-infested Waverly Lake.


The Waverly Duck looks unbothered by what’s in the water around it.

17 responses to “The algae mystery: Swan vs. Waverly Lake”

  1. Lisa Farnam says:

    Waverly is just a dead-end borrow pit. Does it even have any outflow? You’ve got to keep the water moving to prevent algae (thus the aerators and fountain—but obviously, not enough).

  2. Al Nyman says:

    Water flow-the water in Waverly Lake doesn’t flow through as fast as the other lakes.

  3. Jane Marie Greene says:

    My guess is that the plant they “harvested” was B. Elodea. It is an invasive aquatic plant that dearly loves to be harvested as that results in lots more B. Elodea. At the time they had begun doing the cleanup, I asked various sources multiple times what the species was identified as and either got no responses or some that were “unsure” and needed to send my message on which led to no responses. Why do I know about b. Elodea? Because, my Husband and I lived in Ilwaco Washington prior to moving to Albany and in Ilwaco we wrote a Grant (one of the highest amounts received) for cleaning B. Elodea which was choking our beautiful Black Lake and affecting the Cranberry Farmers.

  4. Karen Force says:

    We used to own property at Ocean Shores, WA. They too had issues with algae. They purchased several fish that ate the reeds and algae. You might want to contact their city to discuss the solutions further.

  5. Ed Niemi says:

    Since they were excavated at different times, were swan lakes dug deeper? Is Waverley being filled with the silt from the other lakes? I believe the dam at Waverley is at least twice as high and won’t allow any of the silt to wash out to the Willamette. Just look at the gravel bar at the inlet to Waverley,

  6. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Evidently algae, like potholes, are conundrums beyond the capabilities of local government.

    I’ve written the Joe Biden for President campaign and requested that these two issues be made national priorities with lots of federal funding and regulation.

    I promised to vote for Joe if the campaign makes the commitment.

    I’ll let you know how they respond….

  7. MarK says:

    I’d be careful. If more people start asking the question, the city might start trucking the harvested algae to Swan Lakes.

  8. Swan Lake resident says:

    The eastern Swan Lake is clear, the western one is filled with algae . The eastern has an aerator and the western does not. Waverly has an aerator and does. Looks like the further down stream you go the more algae grows.

  9. Randall Harris says:

    It’s like I said when this issue first came up. This lake was once clear deep and a treat to swim in. In fact, I learned to scuba in Waverly Lake 1968 or 67. This lake can be repaired simply by a complete dredging. The lake needs to be cleaned, and that can only occur once the silt and decaying material be dredged up. I know it would cost a lot of money, but that’s the way to fix it.

    • Laureth Verlassen says:

      Are you sure about the lake and year of your scuba instruction?

      My parents had a radiator &muffler / car repair business that was run out of a building overlooking the lake in the mid 1970s–the pollution was so dangerous & pervasive in that area, I remember signs warning people to STAY BACK AWAY FROM WATER’S EDGE–Warning visitors about avoiding all spaces around the entire lake perimeter!

      Apparently due to proximity, & toxic runoff from Teledyne Wah Chang, various paper mills & others releasing corrosive &/or hazardous chemicals

      • bubba coldrail says:

        Teledyne Wah Chang is down stream from waverly lake so this time ur Teledyne Wah Chang is not the cause

  10. Jim Rose says:

    We used to live in the town of Monroe in the state of New York. We had a huge lake that was choked with weeds just as bad as Waverly lake. They stocked it with hybrid chinese carp. After a few years it was greatly improved. The fish had to be hybrid so they couldn’t multiply and there was posters all along the shoreline telling anglers to release the carp if they accidentally caught one.

  11. David Thompson says:

    Soooo, if you’ve lived here long enough? You’ll notice that the waterfowl stays year round in this lake. Feces from them is like a fertilizer machine. Go figure

  12. TLH-ALB1 says:

    It’s the inevitable ending to gravel pits, beaver dammed ponds, or any impeded body of water in nature. They fill in, have plant growth and decay, and eventually, what was once a body of water, now becomes a meandering stream, from whence it came. Nature rules Daniel-San.

  13. Jp says:

    It’s because of the graveyard over by it. Chemicals are leaching from it into the water.

  14. Joseph c Rose says:

    Put copper sulfate a friend of mine did his own pond he would go out and row around his pond with this bag hanging on the back of the boat his pond was beautiful

  15. Louisa Szasz says:

    1. Have you tested the water and compare the 2 lakes?
    2. Cut the flow of nutrients to the lake
    3.check the aging sewage treatment plants


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