Food coloring in pond slows algae growth


Central’s courtyard has one distinct feature. The fountain sits in the middle of the courtyard, a “pretty” focal object of the space. However, the fountain is not known for its beauty, but rather its curious blue water.

Steven Sturms, freshman, finds humor in the water color. “It reminds me of a blue Snocone,” Sturms said.

Despite the comedy about the color, other students are much more negative about the color. “It looks really artificial,” said Kate Ryan, senior.

Yianni Kinnas, senior, is skeptical about the chemicals that are put into the water. “…Is it toxic?” Kinnas asked.

However, the water is far from dangerous, “Food dye is all it is.” says Jim Lewandowski, Building and Grounds worker and fountain water specialist. “We use a blue dye to slow down algae growth. Blue absorbs the sunlight [and] doesn’t allow algae to grow as quickly.”

For as simple as it seems, the blue dye is a pre-emptive solution to what would be a serious problem. “It would just fill up with green muck,” Lewandowski said. “You know some of these ponds you see around the area that have no circulation? You get all that green muck to it? That’s what would happen there [without the dye.]”

Lewandowski is conscious that the water looks weird, but he has reason for continuing to use the dye as the aquacide.  “We could use copper sulfate, we could chlorinate it heavy, but I just personally choose not to go that direction,” says Lewandowski. “You got people that are right there and you got the ducks in the area… If I don’t have to use chemical, I won’t.”

The fountain was built back in the early 60’s, as a place to supply a place where science students could study micro-biology. Unfortunately, in its 50 year existence, it never was able to serve that purpose for one reason or another. The idea was abandoned early on and it has since transformed into a purely aesthetic object.

The water has been blue since Lewandowski first arrived at Central 37 years ago, and it looks to stay that way for a while. Call it weird, call it freaky, but it’s part of what makes Central, Central.