Not a Drop to Spare!
September 06, 2012
For the last two seasons, the Biological Science Technicians have been tasked with maintaining a weekly record of flow measurements for some of the surface water bodies at Coldwater. In particular, our measurements have typically involved the flows coming from both the Springhouse, as well as the wetland diversion a few feet away from the Springhouse and reservoir.
One additional aspect of testing that we have incorporated this summer includes quality characteristics that we hope to monitor on a regular basis going forward. We are also in the early attempts of recording the day to day precipitation trends that are observed, potentially noting how rainfall may affect water quality and quantity. The collection of these variables may serve as a useful "diary" of how the water resources have changed over time.
(An example of the flow trend data for the month of August 2012)
With the bulk of the restoration completed, and the re-opening of Coldwater to the general public, I would like to take the time to address an issue about the water resources that exist on site. Fairly often, questions have been directed towards park staff on whether or not the water is potable, or safe to drink.
In general, it is the position of the park that the water emanating from the springs is NON-POTABLE.
[A summary of the official position of the park, as well as summary statements from testing conducted from the Minnesota Department of Health can be found HERE]
However, despite these cautions, there are many who are determined to insist that the consumption of the water has not yielded any negative effects on them. The opening of Coldwater provides us with yet another opportunity to remind visitors that drinking the water on-site is not recommended. While it might be true that visitors have consumed the spring water with no adverse health effects, it is important to remember that this may not be the case for everyone; such as for those with a compromised immune system, the consumption of spring water can pose an even greater hazard for that individual. Therefore, we ask that patrons please respect the posted caution sign near the spring as well as refrain from advertising to other patrons that the water is "safe to drink".
While it is true that historically the spring was used as a drinking water source, it is also important to recognize the fact that the character of the spring and the surrounding areas have changed drastically in the last 200 years. Rather than a place for humans to collect water for consumptive purposes, it now serves as an essential resource for upland and riparian flora and fauna.
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Did You Know?
The river is so shallow at Lake Itasca that children can walk across the Mississippi. Between Governor Nicholls Wharf and Algiers Point in New Orleans, the Mississippi is more than 200 feet deep.