Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chester Creek Flows Red-Orange

Photo credited to [Brendan Babb]  Julia O'Malley's
FB post
[UPDATE July 27:  Julia O'Malley has a follow up in the ADN.  She also credits the picture here to Brendan Babb.]

This morning I got an email with a link to a Facebook post with a picture (credited to Julia O'Malley[UPDATE: she credits it to Brendan Babb in ADN update.]) of Chester Creek at Valley of the Moon Park yesterday morning.

This was a follow up of a call I got yesterday afternoon - did I want to bike down the Chester Creek Trail and check on a report about the Creek being red?  It was supposed to be at Valley of the Moon Park.  East of the park was supposed to be clear.   It was one of the nicest days all summer and I'd been home waiting for the plumber, so I jumped at the chance, leaving the plumber working on the hot water tank. (Another post maybe.)

So, off I went, heading west to Valley of the Moon Park.  Here's the creek near Mulcahy Stadium.

Here's the creek at C Street.  The orange in the background is plastic fencing, not water.

And as I go through Valley of the Moon Park, the creek looks the same.  Although it looks brown, the water itself is clear and you can see the bottom (which is why, I guess, it looks brown.)  There was another bridge over the creek just past (west of) the park and E street.

Looks ok to me.  Whatever it was, was gone.

For folks unfamiliar with Anchorage, this greenbelt goes right through Anchorage between downtown and midtown.  A beautiful strip of natural escape in the middle of the city.

This morning I found a  KTUU report yesterday that said  (in part):
Images taken by Brendan Babb of the creek near Valley of the Moon Park in Midtown at about 11:15 a.m. show brightly hued water flowing beneath a footbridge. Babb says the coloration had passed when he saw the creek again two hours later.
A city biologist investigating the incident believes that someone may have introduced the unidentified contaminant upstream.
[Did O'Malley post Babb's photo?  I don't know.]

What pressures were on the people who got rid of their red-orange gunk into this beautiful creek, not far from where it flows into Westchester Lagoon?  What were they thinking?  Are they totally ignorant of the idea of pollution?  Were they pressured by their boss to get rid of it?  Were they trying to avoid fees or lines at the city's disposal sites?  Will we ever find out?

Who knows?  But the ride did reveal that the city had been busy along the Chester Creek Trail yesterday (or maybe the day before) cleaning out homeless camps.  Here are three collections that were at the edge of the trail waiting, I presume, to be picked up.

By the way, if you saw the previous post and the video was missing, I've fixed that.  Really, go back and check the video.  It will make up for this depressing post.


  1. It would have been smart of Julia O'Malley (of Sarah Palin apologist fame) to bend down and scoop up a water-bottle-full of the orange-red stuff, for some lab to analyze...


  2. KaJo, I'm not sure it was actually Julia's picture or someone sent it to her and she posted it on her Facebook page. I only saw it as a screen shot in an email. And I didn't think about taking a container to hold water if it was still there when I got there. Nor did the person who called me suggest it. I should have, just didn't.

    Why do you say Julia's a Palin apologist? It doesn't match at all what I know about her. When Palin was first announced as the VP candidate, I got branded by some Outside bloggers as questionable because I included positive things about Palin. Back then she was aligned with Democrats in the state legislature to raise taxes on oil companies, she challenged the head of the Alaska Republican party over ethics lapses, and none of her conservative social stands was voiced publicly. She was showing us a very different face. The first public sign of the Palin we know now had just surfaced two weeks before - the firing of the Corrections Commissioner and we didn't have much info on that yet. The current Senate Coalition of ten Democrats and six Republicans has fought hard to keep the Palin oil tax and prevent the current Governor from gutting that oil tax by $2 billion a year. I don't know the history of how Julia got labeled an apologist for Palin, but I'm saying it was easy to get that label at one point if one ever said anything positive about Palin. Julia does try to see the human being in the people she writes about which is what we're hoping conservatives will try to do when talking to the rest of us. Maybe you can point me to why you have a problem with Julia. :)

  3. I saw this on the local news and you are there! Terrific coverage. The amount of pollution that you would have to put into Campbell Creek to turn this orange is hard to grasp.

    I would image this is a major pollution event. So absurd! Your questions are right on about what might motivate someone, probably a worker for some business, to do such a thing. And, in all honesty, how can anyone be so dumb as not to know or at least consider a tiny bit that their actions could have a major impact on the ecology of this area, effecting far more than the creek and the shoreline.

    It will be interesting to see how the authorities follow up on this pollution event.

  4. Steve, you do know about the part of Chester Creek that's been orange for years, right? Around Tikishla Park? You go over the Goose Lake overpass northbound, you come down the hill with marsh on your right and bridge on your left, and the creek is orange under the bridge and also eastward. Not being a current affairs blogger, I've never investigated to see how far the orange goes, and never heard anything about where the gunk comes from or what it is. Would you post it if you know or learn it?

  5. 同学, [I'm assuming this comes from a classmate in Chinese class, the characters mean 'classmate'] I know that area of the creek tends to be orangish, but as I recall, the water is still mostly clear. But it's something to check out.


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