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Farm Runoff Can Cause Water Quality Issues for Spring Creek

With heavy and ongoing rains, water levels in Spring Creek have risen.  Though they are receding now, waters spilled over the bank in Goeres Park this week.   For most people, high water levels lead to concerns about basement being flooded.  The issues go beyond that, however.

Zach Scott of the US Geologic Survey explains:

Since there’s a lot of tilling going on in the fields–a lot of people are pulling crops–we got a lot of loose soil.  Loose soil leads to high turbidity1Turbidity is a measure of how cloudy the water is.  In rainy conditions, this is a result of dirt and other run-off being carried by the water..  High turbidity leads to low oxygen levels.  And you can suffer fish-kills.

A second concern with heavy rains during this part of the agricultural season, says Scott, is fertilizer.  As fields are harvested and tilled, farmers are spreading both nitrogen fertilizers and manure.  Continuous rain can result in “complete run-off” and those fertilizers ending up in the streams.

USGS currently has no monitoring stations in Spring Creek or the surrounding marshlands.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Turbidity is a measure of how cloudy the water is.  In rainy conditions, this is a result of dirt and other run-off being carried by the water.

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