April 21, 2024

**Do Not Use**

New Director's Dialogue available now in ARC Event Library

The Lakes of the ARC

By Tom Watson

In December 2021 Brandy Davis took Ellen and me on our first tour of the ARC. We were both impressed with the lakes with their waterfalls and rapids, and the beautiful homes that surrounded them. We asked about their cost and availability and were told that there were no vacancies, and there was a long waiting list for them. There was an apartment in the Highrise that was being renovated. We decided to take it and moved to the ARC in August of 2022. We are very happy with our apartment and our great 9th floor neighbors, and we like being close to the dining room and many of the activities.

However, the lakes have become my favorite walking place and I thought some of the newer residents might like some background. I asked Col. Bruce Furbish, who was CEO of the ARC when the new campus was added if the lakes were natural, or if they had been made for the ARC expansion. He gave me a walking tour and here are a few of the things I learned.

Bruce studied other similar residence communities and found that many of the most successful had waterfront of some type. It was decided that more lakes or ponds should be dug and landscaped to make the ARC more attractive and marketable. For some reason the proposed lakes were considered a “Navigable Stream.” So, before the ponds could be dug, a permit had to be obtained from the Corps of Engineers. With the help of Vickery Engineering. a design was made considering the natural flow paths of the existing arroyos. After much effort, the permit was obtained, and construction began in 2010.

There are six unnamed lakes. I’ll refer to them as #s1 through #6. When the ARC decided to build the new Lakeside Campus, there was only one, (#6) the lowest and largest lake. It had probably been a farmer’s pond fed by several arroyos that drained the ARC and nearby areas. So far as anyone knew, #6 lake had never gone dry.

The water flows are generally from west to east in three separate pairs. The highest lake (#1) is fed from surface drainage. It flows over a waterfall into Lake #2. A pump recirculates about 500(?) gallons of water per minute to Lake #1, thus making the waterfall continuous. This pattern fits the lower lakes.

Lake #3 flows over a waterfall into Lake #4, and a similar pump returns the water to #3. There is an overflow from lake #4 to lake #5 in case of heavy rain. These lakes provide a pretty view from the Water’s Edge dining room.

Water from Lake #5 flows into Lake #6 through rapids and a pump returns it to Lake #5. In case of heavy rain, Lake #6 overflows into an underground pipe that returns water to the natural arroyo and away from the ARC. Lakes #5 and #6 provide a pleasant view for many residences and for Assisted Living.

Some water is lost to evaporation and seepage into the ground. The levels in each lake pair: (#1 & #2), (#3 & #4), (#5 & #6) are maintained by water from the ARC’s irrigation system. Make-up water is an extremely small portion of the total flow, about three per cent. All of the above flows and the ARC’s irrigation system are managed by Clean Scapes, LLC of San Antonio.

There is no connection between the lakes and the ARC’s potable water system. The ARC’s potable water comes from the San Antonio Water System.

The very large rocks used to build the waterfalls and rapids were brought in on trucks. Further landscaping was done by removing many weeping willows and replacing them with cypress trees. The dirt taken out to make the new lakes was used to add small hills to make the walking paths more interesting.

Construction of the lakes and the land scaping was done by Koontz McCombs Construction Company of San Antonio. The homes were built by Voyles-Orr Construction Company. The Assisted Living and the Lakeside/Water’s Edge Buildings were built by Koontz McCombs.

To connect Lakeside campus to the original campus, in 2012 the Ploesti Bridge was built across Miller Road. The bridge commemorates the WWII Army Air Corps’ successful, but very costly raid on Ploesti’s oil refineries August 1, 1943.

Walking around the lakes is enjoyable in that you meet many nice people and friendly dogs.

Another thing that makes walking around the lakes enjoyable is the swans. They were not brought here. Two of them flew in several years ago and evidently liked it. For a few years, they remained “childless.” One theory is that the two originals were of the same gender. Two years ago, a third swan appeared. The odd-swan-out flew away. In the spring a nest appeared, and five eggs hatched. Unfortunately, none of the signets survived to adulthood. Most swan-watchers think they were killed by snapping turtles.

Before nesting season, in the spring of 2023 most of the snapping turtles were trapped and re-located. The swans produced nine eggs, of which seven have grown to near adulthood. Many ARC residents follow the swan family. We wonder if the signets will stay here, or will they migrate to find mates in “greener pastures.”

It appears that the young swans have left. They have not been seen since about January 29.

Many other birds are seen around the lakes: Egyptian goose; common, boat-tailed, and long-tailed grackles; great blue heron, little blue heron, snowy egret, great egret, cormorant, yellow-crowned night-heron, green heron, and many others.

The fountains provide oxygen and some cooling to the waters of the lakes. There is a problem with algae that is treated chemically, and that accounts for the greenish blue color of the lakes.

Catch and release fishing is allowed. Swimming is prohibited. Lake #6 is about 12 ft deep in some places, the others about six ft.

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