On our way back from Kansas City to Denver, we stopped at the Day’s Inn in Hays, Kansas. The next morning I ventured out into a frigid park just behind the hotel strip to look for birds, but instead I found a restoration project.
Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) was designed to keep excess sediment and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus out of the Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watersheds. (Whew! What a mouthful.) Those watersheds drain into the Kanopolis Reservoir, which provides drinking water for the area. Excess nutrients can cause algal blooms in reservoirs, affecting the quality of the water.
As I walked around the park, jumping up and down on the snow-dusted duff under a tree festooned with thorns, I thought of Cherry Creek Reservoir in Denver and its ongoing problems with algal blooms. I can’t remember if the reservoir was closed during the summer of 2014, but it has been closed in the past because of poor water quality.
The solution? To create a “grassed waterway.” (Enlarge the photo and look under “For Agricultural Producers.”) The grasses slow the passage of water, giving the sediments and nutrients time to drop out of the stream and be absorbed by the plants. By the time the water reaches the reservoir, it is cleaner.
Skyline Draw, as this particular ephemeral stream is named, did have a little water, but it was behind me as I took these pictures, near the edge of the park. Perhaps in spring it is full.
As I walked around the park, listening to the murder of crows and the starlings whistling and watching a man play frisbee with his dog, I thought of walking along the draw and trying to find more of these signs. But it was too cold, and few birds were there to distract me from my frozen fingers. I’ll leave you with this sign for homeowners, which offers good advice for reducing water pollution, no matter where you live.