background information
plan synopsis
oceanographic experience





Oceanographer Proposes a Lodi Lake Makeover
Stockton Record
written by Richard Hanner
An oceanographer and businessman who grew up in Lodi has big plans for Lodi Lake.

Jon Cope wants to make the lake a year-round impoundment, filter water running into it and create a unique wildlife and recreational attraction.

His proposal, after initial review by the City Council, is being referred to the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.

Cope's idea is to purify Lodi Lake and make it one of the clearest, most pristine bodies of water in the country.

He wants to:

  • Drain the lake and remove all vegetation, fish and other wildlife. The wildlife would be held in tanks nearby.
  • Clean the sides of the lake through scraping and sandblasting.
  • Remove sedimentation from the bottom and place a layer of sand and rock on the bottom.
  • Install generators, driven by the sun and wind, to run pumps and filters.
  • Run water through the filters, filling the lake.
  • Replace all plants and animals.
There will be numerous benefits, Cope said.

The system will purify water that leaches underground ultimately improving the city's water supply. The water quality of the lake will improve, allowing fish and wildlife to flourish.

"Can you imagine glass-bottom boats on Lodi Lake, with people able to look down into a beautiful habitat,?" Cope said.

The lake now is drained each fall and filled each spring.

By making the lake year-round, the lake could become a popular -- and lucrative -- attraction, Cope said.

The entire process could be done in less than a month, he said.

Some lakes have been cleaned and others treated with chemicals to kill weeds or algae, Cope said.

"But nothing like this has ever been done before. Everything else has been Band-Aid," he said.

Cope is exploring how to pay for the project.

He's looking into money from environment groups and the possibility of an environmental telethon.

He estimates the purification of Lodi Lake would cost more than $5 million.

His hope is to refine the process and equipment by starting at Lodi Lake and then purify other lakes in California.

"Over time, the costs should come way, way down," he said.

He foresees visitors paying to enjoy a variety of recreational activities at the lake.

City will review it

The City Council, after listening to Cope's proposal, asked the city's Parks and Recreation Commission to review it.

Cope is a graduate of Lodi High with a degree in Oceanography from Humboldt State University.

He has worked at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla.

He lives in Los Angeles, where he heads his own companies, Controlled Ecosystems being one of them.

In recent years, the lake has been plagued by the growth of aquatic weeds and, from time to time, high bacteria levels that have prevented swimming.

Now under way are plans to recontour and deepen the lake, said Ron Williamson, director of parks and recreation.

That work should cure the weed and bacteria problems, he said.

Council's all ears

Bob Johnson, chairman of the parks and recreation board, said he's willing to listen to Cope's ideas.

"Right now, I'm not sure what he has in mind," he said.

"But you have to listen to things. It may be a great idea. It may be wonderful."

Councilman Randy Snider said the project probably isn't something the city would pay for.

"But heck, if he's going to do it for free, it's worth exploring," he said.

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