Friday, April 26, 2013

WATERWORKS by Gordon Prickett A monthly Outdoors Column for the 5/1/2013 Aitkin Independent Age WEATHER GUESSING One of the veteran pilots in my Navy Air Anti-submarine Squadron had been trained as a meteorologist and had served in that capacity at the Jacksonville, Florida Naval Air Station. Commander “Red” Reider was his name, and he introduced me to the term “Weather-Guesser” when we needed a weather briefing for a scheduled launch. Red had a sense of humor and always emphasized that forecasting the weather was a shaky business. These are memories from the 1960's. With modern atmospheric models for the 21st Century we might expect some improvement. Just maybe we have had our final “Spring snowstorm.” It is the First of May. But forecasts and predictions have been shaky for the entire month of April. Last year the ice went out in March on our lake - the earliest in at least 36 years, and this year it will surely be the latest ice-out date in as many years. It’s fair to say that we have had weather extremes in recent years. Severe rainstorms and flooding last June and July were followed by the dry spells of September and October. In the words of my shipmate Red Reider, what will come next is “anybody’s guess.” IMPERVIOUS SURFACES One of the best little water quality booklets that I’ve come across has just been published by the University of Wisconsin Extension Center for Land Use Education. Its title is "Impervious Surfaces - How They Impact Fish, Wildlife and Waterfront Property Values." Copies are available from the county zoning office. It is illustrated with underwater photographs of fish, pictures of waterfowl and wildlife, as well as good and not-so-good treatments of shoreline. There are graphics to show what happens to runoff volume, phosphorus input, and sediment input when shoreland is managed in different ways. Certainly when you pour concrete and spread asphalt near the lake there will be harm, but is gravel considered impervious? Here is a quotation that I found to be helpful: “A common question is whether gravel driveways and walkways are considered impervious surfaces. Noncompacted gravel “mulch,” such as that used as landscaping material, is generally not considered impervious. On the other hand, gravel used for driveways, parking lots or other high-use surfaces, becomes compacted. After compaction, gravel driveways and parking areas will create runoff even during minor rain events. If gravel is used, it should be free of clay and other fine particles to help prevent compaction and “clogging” of spaces between gravel particles. Half-inch or 3/4 inch “clear” crushed rock is a good choice for this application. “Clear” indicates that the gravel is virtually free of fine particles.”