01/05/2012 09:07 am ET

Denver Delight, Bea Taplin Waterlilies May Be In Danger Since City Drained Berkeley Lake

A pair of pink and white waterlilies are facing an uncertain fate after the city of Denver drained Berkeley Lake, where the lilies have thrived for more than 60 years.

The white waterlily is named after longtime Denver Botanic Gardens supporter Bea Taplin, while its pink twin is named "Denver Delight." Then-Mayor John Hickenlooper even attended the 2009 Bea Taplin waterlily dedication.

Though Denver Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Angela Casias says the pair of lilies are not native to Colorado, they have flowered every year from May to September in just four areas: Littleton's Hudson Gardens, Lakewood's Fox Hollow and Homestead golf courses and, of course, Berkeley Lake. But while the lake is undergoing its $3.25 million bond-funded drainage improvement project, the dormant lilies are being exposed to the elements.

The project was partly meant to improve fish habitats, but CBS4 reported in August that dead fish were being washed ashore due to a miscalculation of fish-appropriate oxygen levels by Denver Parks and Recreation and the Division of Wildlife. The drainage even brought treasure scavengers out of the woodwork, hunting for boaters' and swimmers' lost items.

However, all hope is not lost for the lilies and their best defense may just be their natural design. According to Joe Tomocik, the recently retired curator of aquatics for the Denver Botanic Gardens, waterlilies are strong and persistent growers.



Denver's Threatened Bea Taplin Waterlilies