My Pinckney-Ann Arbor commute along Huron River Drive to work at HRWC has been a little waterlogged lately, but it has been nice to see some signs of spring. One harbinger of spring is higher water flow in the Huron River, and this week you need a canoe to sit on the riverbank benches at Delhi. The rapids there are really roaring!
I stopped at Barton Dam, where the water flow was crazy and this big foam glob was creeping across the pathway.
Further downstream, rafts of foam bumped against the riverbanks. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this wasn’t because someone dumped 50 gallons of Tide into Barton Pond.
Luckily, I work at the Huron River Watershed Council! And, we had a newsletter article back in 2005, cleverly titled “What IS that?,” which addressed this very question. Organic compounds released by decomposing plants and animals lessen the surface tension of the water. When lots of oxygen is introduced – from water flowing over a waterfall, or wave action, or dams – foam can form. On a warmer day, I might have scooped up a handful for closer inspection. It would have smelled slightly of decaying plants and probably dead fish.
A few more photos of my drive this morning are below. If you want more information on some of the odd water conditions you might be seeing and what they mean, check out this article from our 2005 Huron River Report