Before and After – Madison tests Warner’s water for R&B contaminants

Warner Park’s wetland was sampled for fireworks metals and perchlorate before and after the 2012 Rhythm and Booms extravaganza.

Rick Wenta, an environmental field technician with the Madison/Dane County health department took samples of water in four spots, along with dissolved oxygen, and Ph levels.

The first samples were pulled Friday June 29.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Rick Wenta of the Madison/Dane County Health Department pours raw water into a filtered syringe for testing of metals and perchlorate. (Jim Carrier June 29, 2012)











Strict protocols are followed to prevent contamination. Samples are labeled with time and location, and bacteria and algae are filtered out. The samples are then stored in an ice cooler before lab tests.














Dissolved oxygen, an indicator of a wetland’s health and ability to support fish and other aquatic life, is tested at one-foot increments down to the bottom. Initial readings show decent oxygen near the surface, with the declining levels the deeper you go.















Like Bogie with the African Queen, Jim Carrier, whose dory was used for the test, ran aground in lilypads and fallen branches, and had to get out and pull the boat, with Rick Wenta and the samples, into deeper water. “The things we do for data,” he later emailed. “I hope there aren’t any leeches.” To which Wenta reassuringly replied, “There probably are.”













Rhythm & Booms spectacular fireworks display, June 30, thrilled those who watched from Warner Park, in boats off Warner beach, and front yards for miles around. Here is the last 30 seconds of the fireworks, shot with a handheld digital camera from Warner’s high meadow:


The following morning, July 1, Rick Wenta and Jim Carrier went back to the same four spots and pulled duplicate water samples. Similar tests will be taken one week, and one month later.

Using a prefilter to remove algae and other contaminants, Wenta collects a small bottle of water to be tested for fireworks chemicals.














Fire, touched off by fireworks debris, smouldered Sunday morning. A patch 75 feet square and dead logs were burned.












At first glance, and from a distance the water looked OK. Volunteers in canoes — including Wild Warner Secretary Marie Jacobsen’s boy scout troop, and Treasurer Tim Nelson — began picking up trash. But the closer you looked the more you could see a fairly dense residue, tiny bits of stuff, floating in the water. It could have been ash, which could be seen in the sky, drifting southwest, and which fell on neighborhood homes. On the wetland’s west side, between the dog park and the cattails, the debris was obvious, either floating on the water, or held by water lilies.

Shards of firework casings can be seen near the oar’s face, scattered among the lily pads.











Notice the “silt” in the water in the shadow of the oar. Plus larger pieces that are sinking rapidly.











By 8 a.m. much of the larger pieces had sunk out of sight. But lily pads held evidence of the fireworks fallout. The black specks “are some kind of insect,” Rick reported after examining them under a dissecting microscope. “The ones that I observed were active. They were of disparate sizes, so there were several ages present. The white material, that I didn’t remember seeing on Friday, is desiccated shells that the larger ones must have molted.”

Here are several photos:

























By midmorning, wildlife began to repopulate the wetland. Warner’s cranes were spotted, for example, and the following critters appeared happy to have their park back:


A fox came down to the water to drink or hunt.











Despite the debris nearby, a red-winged blackbird hopped among the lilies, hunting for food.