P.O. Box 529
Yardley, PA 19067
The Friends of Lake Afton (FOLA) is a civic non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to restore, improve, protect and maintain Lake Afton and the public areas surrounding the Lake for all to enjoy.
In 1969, forty-eight years ago, when Lake Afton was in disrepair, three women got together and formed FOLA in order to raise money to improve and maintain Lake Afton. FOLA was incorporated in 1975.
Lake Afton is a manmade Lake that was created to provide power via water wheel electricity for a gristmill that John Brock built in 1705. Lake Afton was originally referred to as “the millpond,” not as Lake Afton. William Yardley purchased John Brock’s gristmill in 1732, demolishing and replacing the gristmill in 1769 with Yardley Grist Mill which was also powered by the millpond. It’s been said that Lake Afton was named after the poem “Afton Water,” which was written by Robert Burns in 1791.
Although Lake Afton was created to run a Grist Mill via water wheel electricity, it’s always been privately owned, and yet has always been generously shared with and enjoyed by the public. Lake Afton, considered by many to be Yardley’s town jewel, is a favorite spot for many people throughout the year. Individuals, families or friends can ice skate in the winter, fish in the summer, feed the ducks and geese, watch/photograph wildlife, read, meet up with friends, enjoy a snack or beverage, paint a picture, sit on a park bench, and more. Lake Afton has been one of the most photographed places in Bucks County. Until recently, that is.
Our picturesque Lake Afton is threatened by filamentous algae that has taken up residence in the Lake for the past few years in the warmer months. Without efforts to rid Lake Afton of this algae, it would eventually choke the oxygen out of the Lake, causing all that live in and depend on the Lake for its food and water supplies to become sick and die, which would eventually result in Lake Afton becoming a swamp.
In 2015 Lake Afton was evaluated and the water was tested. The results showed that the algae begins to grow because Lake Afton is shallow, no more than 3 feet deep, and has too little shade, a combination that causes the water to become too warm, creating the perfect environment for algae to start to form. The water that was tested showed that there is phosphorus in the water. Phosphorus enters Lake Afton from the dam (Lake Afton’s main water source where the water is diverted from Buck Creek) as well as from the storm drains that empty into Lake Afton. Once the algae starts to grow, the phosphorus in the Lake feeds the algae causing it to grow like wildfire.
Eventually the Lake will need to be dredged. Before dredging can take place, though, appropriate environmental studies, applications must first occur. If dredging is warranted and approved, an estimated $750,000 or more will need to be raised. The whole process could take at least a few years to coordinate.
Until dredging can take place, we must move forward with plans to reduce the phosphorus in the Lake to help reduce the algae. Even after dredging, efforts to minimize phosphorus must continue in order for Lake Afton to remain healthy.
Last year we hired Clean-Flo, International, a company in West Chester, PA that helps bring bodies of water that are plagued with algae back to a healthy state again by using biological products that are not harmful to the animals and wildlife. When we hired Clean-Flo, we were told that it would be 2-3 years of treatments before we would see a marked improvement. When using biological products, it takes a little longer than using chemicals but is the safest way to go. Last year, with the money we raised, we were able to replace our aging aerators that were no longer working properly. We had a little money left over for a small amount of biological products.
In 2017 a much more aggressive application schedule of biological algae treatments has been planned. Already, nutrient sponges have been placed in the Lake to help absorb phosphorus. Clean-Flo will also be putting black dye in Lake Afton in the warmer months to essentially act like sunglasses on the Lake, preventing the sun from penetrating through the water which will keep the water from heating up, which will help prevent algae from forming. The black dye is completely safe for the wildlife and will not stain people, plants or wildlife.
FOLA is in the process of gathering information to let the public know what they can do to help bring Lake Afton back to a safer, healthier state. We are gathering information to hand out and to place on our website regarding alternatives to using weed killers and fertilizers that contain phosphorus. We’ll also have information about planting riparian buffers along the edge of properties that back up to the creeks and streams that flow into other streams and creeks, ponds, lakes and the Delaware River. Water from Buck and Brock Creeks ends up in Lake Afton when the dam diverts water into Lake Afton. Riparian buffers are plants and bushes that are native to the area that essentially act as filters, preventing much of the chemicals from lawns from ending up in our waterways.