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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

From my yard to the Pacific Ocean

   The new stormwater tax has been controversial in some jurisdictions. This tax was passed in the last session of the Maryland Legislature to pay for the efforts to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.  The Bay has been impacted by a number of factors but the one that has had the largest impact is simply the nutrients and pollutants that enter the Bay from all of our homes with each rainfall.  We have all seen the words painted on our storm drains that warn us that what goes in the drain ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. 
     Yesterday I blogged on how the rain garden in my yard had corrected the problem that I had with each rainfall.  Today I wanted to show how the sequence of environmental impacts of the large rainfall we had on Monday.  The pictures below follow that path.

Rain running off my lawn before my rain garden

From my yard the rain enters Lake Elkhorn and the soil it took along makes the lake brown in color.  This soil will settle to the bottom and require more lake dredging in the future.

 Unfortunately the rain not only carried soil from my yard but a wide range of plastic bottles and other trash along with it.  What we see is the trash that floats and not the trash that has already sunk to the bottom.

Debris and more trash made a mess of many parts of the path around the Lake.

 Water from Lake Elkhorn flows into the Patuxent River as it moves through the County.  This flooded area is in a wetland area below the lake.

The water from the Patuxent River eventually follows into the Chesapeake Bay.  Above you can see that the soil is also deposited along the shoreline.

Just as with Lake Elkhorn, trash flowing into the Bay ends up along the shoreline too.

    So where does this trash eventually end up.  The plastic trash that started flowing into Lake Elkhorn may very well end up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Ocean currents from around the world create a dumping ground in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that is as large as the state of Texas and known as the Great Pacific Garbage Dump.

   Something to think about when you pay your "rain tax."

Something any man will understand.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite. How does your trash get to the PACIFIC Ocean?

The predominant ocean currents in the North Atlantic start with the Gulf Stream, which would take your trash toward the British Isles; and then the North Atlantic Drift and Canary current, which would take it to the North Equatorial current and back to North America. It would cycle around the Atlantic.

Although it's extremely unlikely, I suppose it's theoretically possible that your trash could catch the Norwegian current, go up into the Arctic; traverse the entire length of Russia; then somehow catch the Oyashio current south, and somehow wind up in the Pacific. But let's be real here. Your trash in Columbia IS NOT going into the Pacific.

HoCo Connect said...

It is unlikely but possible. See Wikipedia link on this.

Harry Schwarz said...

Great science lesson, Duane. You could be a science teacher.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I read the Wikipedia article, and nowhere in it does it remotely mention garbage migrating from the Atlantic into the Pacific. Sorry; no sale.

There IS an Atlantic garbage patch, and it's quite possible that trash originating in Columbia could wind up there. But for whatever reason, it doesn't have the cachet of the Pacific patch.