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theta pond construction

Enhancing Theta Pond

Monday, March 27, 2023

Media Contact: Sydney Trainor | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

One of Oklahoma State University’s iconic campus locations is receiving an upgrade. This spring, construction began at Theta Pond for the addition of a diffusion aeration system and updated bridges. 

The new type of aeration system is placed as a network of tubing, with diffusers releasing oxygen spaced evenly across the bottom of the pond. 

“It’s constantly adding oxygen to the system, through that web of tubing on the bottom,” said Dr. Andy Dzialowski, associate professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. “For this diffuser system in particular, they've built a power generator out [by the pond] to provide constant oxygen.” 

That output may make oxygen bubbles pop up on the surface but it also mixes the water and promotes the natural decomposition of organic material. 

“Sometimes you get hot water on the top and cold water on the bottom, and the hot water warms up, but the cold water doesn't. Then what happens is all the oxygen in the body of water gets used up,” Dzialowski said. “So if we can keep the water consistently moving, we wouldn't have the loss of oxygen. Basically by adding the actual movement of the oxygen disrupts the water column.” 

The pond will naturally warm on the top and be colder on the bottom because energy from the sun is absorbed in the upper layers, called thermal stratification. The movement of oxygen disrupts the water column, which keeps water from stratifying into the hot and cold sections and becoming stagnant. Ultimately this prevents growth on the water’s surface. 

The addition of the diffuser is a collaboration between the Environmental Science Graduate program and mechanical engineering and integrative biology departments.

“I think it'll improve the overall health of the pond ecosystem,” Dzialowski said.

During the summer of 2019, OSU renovated the main bridge along Greek Walk. This spring, OSU began renovating the three additional wooden bridges around Theta Pond to complement the architectural design of the main bridge.

Built in 1865, the pond originally served as a reservoir for livestock. Today, it’s a beloved campus location for those looking to relax, watch the wildlife or walk around for exercise. It is often the setting for many senior photos and has been a staple during Homecoming Walkaround.

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