Mirror Lake is under renovation to make it more sustainable and to repair leaks. Credit: Chelsea Spears / Multimedia editor

Mirror Lake is under renovation to make it more sustainable and to repair leaks.
Credit: Chelsea Spears / Multimedia editor

As Fall Semester and Ohio State’s football season approach, so do traditions that date back decades.

Every year, students jump into Mirror Lake the Tuesday before the Buckeyes play University of Michigan.

However, it’s uncertain if students will get to carry on the tradition this year because of an on-going renovation of Mirror Lake.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman said he was not able to comment on whether the renovation will affect the jump, regardless of the project’s completion.

“We can’t really address hypothetical situations,” Hedman said.

Hedman responded to an initial email that was sent to OSU spokesman Gary Lewis about the renovation possibly affecting the jump.

The lake was drained after last year’s jump to allow for work on a sustainability study aiming to prevent water loss because of leaks in the lake’s structure. The study was also set to address maintenance issues related to deterioration of the lake’s walls, and it ultimately determined that groundwater is a viable option for sustaining the lake. The study cost about $28,000.

Before being drained, the lake was filled with city water, costing OSU nearly $46,000 per year, Administration and Planning spokeswoman Alison Hinkle said in a Tuesday email.

OSU is set to begin refilling the campus landmark Wednesday with water from a recently-dug well that cost an additional $30,000, Hinkle said.

The water will be transferred from the well to Mirror Lake via a temporary pump and hose.

Whether that pump and hose will be the final measure taken to keep Mirror Lake filled in time for the jump won’t be known until after university leaders choose a final design plan in early

November, said Aparna Dial, OSU director of energy services and sustainability.

Even so, Dial said Mirror Lake could be drained yet again, depending on the design that’s chosen.

“Once we figure out what the exact aesthetics are, we have to create a permanent pump house, that’s the goal, and then the piping would have to be laid at the bottom of the lake,”Dial said. “You’d have to drain the lake, especially if you wanted to lay pipe at the lake bottom.”

However, if tradition prevails, the jump will most likely occur Nov. 25. That gives OSU roughly four weeks to finish the renovation if the final plan is chosen during the first week of the month.

In March, an open house and visual preference survey provided students, faculty, staff and alumni the opportunity to weigh in on design concepts for Mirror Lake.

“Nobody showed a clear preference for any one of the plans. People liked aspects of each different plan,” Dial said. “It has always been the goal to make (Mirror Lake) safer and more sustainable while preserving its iconic nature.”

The 2013 jump created controversy after fences were erected surrounding the lake for safety purposes. Students attending the tradition were required to wear a wristband to enter.

Some students protested the efforts and took to social media to plan a separate jump the night before the actual one was supposed to happen. About 1,500 students followed through and knocked down the fences to enter the lake, according to a November 2013 article from The Lantern.

Gravel was poured into Mirror Lake in May to reduce its overall depth to 5 feet as part of an interim measure toward making the lake more sustainable.

Landscape architecture firm MKSK is working with OSU to help design the updated Mirror Lake.

The firm originally selected by OSU, EDGE Group — a local firm of landscape architects and development consultants founded by former OSU football player and assistant vice president for business advancement Eddie George — backed out of its contract to “avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” former Administration and Planning spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said in a December email.

Mirror Lake became a campus fixture 140 years ago after beginning as a small stream.