Permaculture Plan for Pine Lake

In 2014-2015, Shades of Green Permaculture Design, Inc., led by principal Brandy Hall, used Pine Lake as a ‘living lab’ for students in a permaculture certification course.  The students researched, explored and envisioned solutions to several of Pine Lake’s environmental concerns, including a community garden, creek remediation, design of McAllister Meadow, and the commercial district.
Although the City has not officially endorsed this plan as a whole, it has adopted some of the recommendations in making smart ecological decisions. You can see the final plan at

Water Quality Posts

During the swimming season, May through October (LakeFest weekend), the City of Pine Lake will test the lake water weekly and post the results here. You may review the current and historical information by using the Get the Latest Information section in the side bar at right and the Water Quality category.

Here’s the latest report and information.

Lake Update

Spring 2015

According to Dr. James Chansler, new director of DeKalb County Watershed Management, the high fecal counts in the lake are most likely due to one or more factors: “leaky sewers, septic tank leachate, wild life,” and of course, storm water run-off. Here is an update on each possible pollution source:

  1. In January 2015, the DeKalb County Watershed Department was finally able to secure five sewer heads in the wetlands whose covers were not completely bolted down. (PL Public Works had drained the wetlands in preparation for this work.) These recent repairs have likely eliminated this potential pollution source, but we will continue to monitor. We have asked the DeKalb Watershed Department to reach out to the upstream apartments. Their private sewer system is prone to grease clogs, which cause overflowing into the Snapfinger watershed.
  2. According to data provided by the DeKalb County of Public Health, there are 38 active septic systems in Pine Lake, 6 of which are on Spruce (as of 2007 survey). It’s not known at this time if there is septic leaching into Snapfinger Creek. This could be investigated further if high e.coli counts persist.
  3. The Public Works Department discourages geese by keeping the water levels high, which reduces the type of shoreline that Canada Geese prefer. There is the possibility that homeowners with dogs, especially along Spruce Drive, contribute to the fecal levels if they do not “scoop the poop,” even in their own backyards.
  4. Downstream run-off will be a problem as long as upstream development continues without proper silt fencing and other precautions. Heavy rains increase the likelihood of pollutants and silt washing into the creek. The recent Permaculture Class held in Pine Lake proposed the use of a mushroom mycelium barrier that would filter the water before it enters the wetlands or the flume. This can be done at a modest cost, and Public Works is actively pursuing further research about this innovative solution, with the help of Shades of Green. Mushroom mycelium absorbs metals as well as bacteria and other pollutants. (These mushrooms are rendered inedible.)

Professional water testing began the second week of April, conducted by the Environmental Water Laboratory of The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Athens, at a cost of $40 per test.  Here are the early results; acceptable level is 235:

Location Data on 4/13/15 Data on 4/21 Data on 4/28
Upstream, before the wetlands 8,164 313 We will monitor these three sites on an occasional basis to confirm wetlands’ efficacy.
Bottom of wetlands 253 393
At eastern bridge 41 74
At swimming area (beach) 41 < 10 31


We will post a sign at the beach with the most recent test results from the beach area, and the acceptable level for swimming (235). The City will not close the beach; but will let each citizen make his or her own decision about whether or not to swim, at his or her own risk. 

Report prepared by Mayor deNobriga, April 28, 2015.


2015 Pine Lake Park and Beach Rules

2015 Pine Lake Park and Beach Rules in a PDF Format for viewing and printing.

2015 Pine Lake Park and Beach Rules

Welcome to Pine Lake!  Please enjoy the park and beach, and keep them safe, clean and civil by following these simple rules. Anyone not following these rules may be asked to leave.

In some cases, a ticket may also be issued, with a fine to be paid.

 Keep It Safe!

  • Swim at your own risk. There is no lifeguard on duty.
  • Anyone 12 years & younger must be accompanied by an adult, whether on the playground, trails or beach.
  • Children 6 years & younger in the water must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • Swimming allowed only within the roped area. Adults may swim between the ropes and the berm by signing a waiver available at City Hall or from the Beach Manager.
  • No fires on the beach without a permit.
  • No pets allowed off-leash, in the lake, or on the beach at any time.
  • No glass containers allowed on the beach or in the park.

Keep It Clean!

  • Please clean up after your pets.
  • To promote health and lessen pollution in our lake, Pine Lake requires pet owners to pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly.
  • Please do not litter. Trash cans are provided for your convenience.

 Keep It Civil!

  • Smoking is NOT permitted on the beach.
  • Alcoholic beverage consumption and public drunkenness are not allowed at the park or beach; violators are subject to arrest and prosecution. Alcoholic beverages are only allowed during special and permitted events.
  • Be considerate of other people enjoying the park. Please, no loud music or swearing! City Ordinances prohibit noise from midnight to 7am.

 Protect Our Wildlife

  • Please do not feed the geese, ducks, and other birds  — it is not healthy to their digestive system, interrupts their migration patterns, and pollutes our lake.
  • Do not disturb the turtles or other wildlife in any way.
  • Fishing is allowed. Persons 16 years and older must have a valid state fishing license (available online).  “Catch-and-release” is strongly encouraged.

Hours of Operation

  • The Lake and all park areas (playground, Western Wetlands, Eastern Green Space, and all trails surrounding the lake) close at sunset, re-opening at dawn.
  • Swimming is allowed only from May through the first weekend in October. The lake is not tested for bacteria in other months.

The Dredge Report #7

The Dam,The Berm,The Streambank The Dike, The Impoundment

Call it what you will. The earthen dam that separates the lake from the creek will be completely re-sculpted over the next several weeks.

Created in 1952, the dike (as it was referred to then) was created to the best of the city’s ability at the time. Unfortunately this included planting trees which over time have become a threat to the structural integrity of the earth that keeps the lake out of the creek–and vice versa.

At the start of the lake project thirty-one trees were originally marked for removal. The dam was reevaluated early last week and it was determined that more trees will need to be removed than was first expected. Removal will begin within the next week or two. This is unfortunate, to say the least, but obviously very necessary. Parts of the trees will be repurposed to create habitat; apparently the remains of a Christmas tree can be seen in the lakebed surrounded by indications of fish activity.

Dozens of stakes were inserted into the lakebed last week. Each of these indicates the depth of the dig in that area, so please don’t remove them. There will also be “plateaus” created in the lake bottom to give our fish places to lay eggs.

In case you missed the second round of fish relocation last Thursday, an estimated 2500 fish were taken from the small pool of remaining water and transferred into the creek, one basket at a time.

We’ve been told to expect equipment to move in by the end of this week or early next week. Of course, any rain can greatly affect the timeline.