Tuesday, June 16, 2009

EMPS: Love That Dirty Water

From Reid at Random

For Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #42: Playing In The Water, Carly wants to see people interacting with water. I can't top my waterfall shots from Saturday, but I can update them with tonight's visitors to the Barnum Hill waterfall. Here they are.

I have much more to say and probably much more to show, but it's been a very long and difficult day and I'm utterly exhausted. More later, after I've slept!

Okay, it's many hours later, and I've slept. I would have slept in even more, but I had a half-forgotten appointment to meet with a friend late this morning.


The thing I probably haven't made clear about the water than flows in manmade streams from the top of Reid Park's Barnum Hill, down the waterfall and into the two urban lakes (duck ponds) is that all of that water is effluent - treated, "reclaimed" wastewater rather than drinking water. There are all sorts of sensible reasons for using reclaimed water for irrigation and other purposes in our desert city, and after all, it's not like it comes straight from a sewer. Still, it's very definitely not something you'd ever want to swim in, unless you're a bird or a fish, let alone drink from. Even Cayenne, in her mania to chase ducks, discovered a few weeks ago that beneath the water's pretty surface is algae and unpleasant, smelly muck.

But here's the problem. The two urban lakes are stocked with fish for the birds to live on, and despite the signs forbidding it, some humans can't resist fishing for them. The guy pictured above was pulling fish out of the water and flipping them to the herons, which seems like fairly harmless behavior. (I've made a few small edits to the picture to make him harder to identify - I don't want to get him in trouble!) But I've also seen a whole family fishing together, apparently intending to eat what they catch. This strikes me as dangerous. If fish in the Great Lakes and elsewhere became unfit for consumption in the 1970s due to mercury and other contaminants, how safe are these little fish that spend their lives in semi-treated wastewater?

Better to leave the fish to the birds.

And by the way, leave the birds alone, too. There is a rumor that at least one local restaurant was caught trapping Reid Park ducks to serve as food. The story smacks of urban legend, but there does seem to be truth to the idea that people dump ducks they don't want any more to live out their lives at Reid Park. Domesticated ducks probably shouldn't be expected to suddenly fend for themselves in the wild. Better not to get your kid a live duck for Easter in the first place, hmm?



Barbara said...

in the top photo it looks a lot like ice, nice effect.

Jama said...

Try do what Singapore is famous for, FINE the offenders!
when it hurts the pockets, people will stop doing it, well, most of the time!.lol

Carly said...

Hi Karen :)

Beautiful pictures! I enjoyed your photos of the waterfall a lot, and was hoping you would revisit it for this weeks photo shoot round.

So sad about the ducks. Sheesh... what's up with people? My biggest peeve is that folks just tend to dump animals, pets, birds what have you, as if the animal were old scrap or something.



Suzanne R said...

Great pictures and narration about this area. I can see why people would avoid swimming in or drinking the water. Fish for birds sounds like the best solution. :-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi Karen, Dirty water..only fit for birds..even the lakes up here are getting dirtier..they are nothing like they were fifty years ago..sad:(
I do like the photo of the waterfall:)

Mike said...

You know, at first it looked like the string the guy had was around the birds neck. I thought it was his pet and he was feeding it. :)

NO, I wouldn't want to eat out of that either...