Wednesday, June 13, 2012

06/13/2012 - Three Mile Creek Watershed

Note: Dog River Clearwater Revival and the City of Mobile have reached an agreement about storm water litter in Dog River. Out of respect for their agreement, I will not be posting any more photos or videos documenting the litter problems in Dog River, at least not until after the litter trap(s) have been installed. I will continue posting photos of wildlife seen on kayaking trips and have no control over the background of the photos. As long as there are zero people cleaning waterways on a regular basis, the shorelines will likely be full of trash in undeveloped areas. Take today for instance...

Header Image - photo of a bird with typical shoreline trash ruining the view.

I waited a few days for the 1.5 million gallons of poop water that garnished the aroma in Three Mile Creek to move into Mobile Bay before launching in Three Mile Creek today. Today makes it six months since I started whingeing about the pollution in the Maple Street Canal and One Mile Creek area. Here is today's two month update. Out of courtesy since the City of Mobile has taken positive steps to deter pollution in another watershed, I'll only post two month updates here instead of every week or two. As expected, no change - the trash has not been removed.

Most of the trash from this past heavy rain must have been swept into Mobile River to be deposited along Mobile Bay, the Gulf Beaches, and Mississippi Sound because there were no large trash bergs visible in Three Mile Creek today. This was the worst trash berg seen today. (I did edit Jordan's sign to be more appropriate.)

Every single property along Three Mile Creek from Stanton Road to the mouth of Mobile River (8 miles of shoreline) is littered with shoreline trash. The small crabs can't clean the mud beneath the garbage. See the crab? Probably not because it is small.

I zoomed in closer so you can see the crab which plays an important role in the environment. Note what the bottle says over the bar scan code, "CA CSV ME, HI." Some states make the consumer pay an additional nickel or dime on drinks to encourage recycling. Alabama needs similar legislation but they should make it a quarter. With a quarter bounty on plastic, glass and aluminum bottles, cans, and styrofoam cups, the public would be picking up litter as fast as it is thrown down. Convenience container recycle deposits would Keep Mobile Beautiful.

So why do I paddle in One Mile Creek if it is visually offensive and a may be a health hazard? The wildlife deserves better living conditions and they can't speak for themselves. Plus, the One Mile Creek shoreline happens to be botanically diverse. Plants grow well in poop (fertilizer). Here is a female Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) showing its leaves and aggregate fruit.

One Mile Creek is also home to a lot of birds, like this little blue heron (juvenile).

I also liked to paddle there to see the big alligator. Sadly, the sewer water, cancer, chemicals, or old age got the best of it. No big alligator up here anymore.

This is one of about a dozen seepage waterfalls from the Old Hickory Street Landfill into One Mile Creek. The view of this littered shoreline is typical of the area. You have to see the sickening sights in person from a kayak to fully experience it and it could bring tears to your eyes.

Apple snail eggs (pink eggs), seen here in Maple Street Canal are abundant throughout the Three Mile Creek watershed. The snails have worked their way up into other Three Mile Creek watershed tributaries already. More seepage from the landfill can be seen.

Apple snail eggs were seen close to Mobile River on a piling across Jordan Industries. I bet the recent heavy rain pushed some Apple Snails into Mobile River. Will any survive and get into Garrows Bend, Dog River or Fowl River? In a quest to kill the invasive snail species, Mobile Baykeeper is having an Apple Snail roundup on June 30th and needs volunteers.

With recent rain deeply saturating the ground, strange seepage is occurring around the old Hickory Street Landfill again. I'm not sure what the tan colored seepage is but think it is a natural bacteria related scum.

Of concern though are silver colored sludge like splotches in the One Mile Creek bank as seen here next to the plastic bottles. In the past I thought the shiny sludge might be related to an oil container failing or a spray can rusting through and releasing contents into the water but it appears the sludge may be related to seepage from the Old Hickory Street Landfill. Maybe the sludge is a form of algae and is completely harmless. I don't know. Mobile County Health Department deferred my concerns about the questionable sludge to ADEM. Its been six months since I asked ADEM to investigate and still no word whether this sludge is toxic or not. Still no word from ADEM whether they are even testing the wetlands and creek bed sediment around the Old Hickory Street Landfill. Still no word from ADEM whether this area could be a hazard to public health. A report by Ben Raines, Press Register, says that the Old Hickory Street Landfill may be a candidate for the EPA's Superfund list. That means the area is likely toxic and a hazard to public health. You would think if that is the case, there would be some fences and warning signs alerting kayakers to the danger. Woe unto future generations whose lives will be degraded just like the environment.

Near the upstream area of One Mile Creek near the seepage areas are strange sheens on the surface of the water. Some are silver colored and other are multi-colored. Some pulse from Gold to completely Blue and Purple like on the left. Some double in size and turn gold and then shrink back down to purple-blue. It was bizarre to see.

Some of the surface deposits when disturbed would stretch like on the left photo. Others, like the above right photo, would break up into tiny pieces. No petroleum smell to it. Anyone know what this surface scum or pollution could be? Does anyone care about what flows into Mobile Bay and may be seeping into drinking water aquifers?

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