Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lake Superior, Part 1

Lake Superior contains about 10% of all the fresh water in the world.  I visited a small part of it recently, courtesy of the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources (  The lake is threatened by invasive species, industrial and urban pollution, climate change and a host of other problems.  More extreme weather can be expected due to climate change, so the City of Duluth has attempted to increase the capacity of its storm sewers, some of which follow the routes of the many trout streams in the city.

Duluth is still an extremely busy shipping port, sending taconite ore and grain east, and receiving products from Europe through the St. Lawrence Seaway.  There are over 100 invasive species in the Great Lakes, probably none as damaging as the zebra mussel and sea lamprey.  Many of these species came to the lake from ship ballast.  All ballast water must be dumped in the Atlantic Ocean before entering the Great Lakes now, but there is still the possibility of new invasive species, so laboratories have been set up to research the problem.

Climate change is already affecting the Apostle Islands, and because of the archipelago's location between biomes (called an ecotone) it may be affected more quickly than many other places.  There is also a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) near the Lakeshore.  Warming waters threaten the fish in the lake.  Warming air temperatures threaten the boreal forest, and the trees around the lake will probably die out as temperatures rise.  As that happens, flora native to Southern Wisconsin will probably move in.  It remains to be seen which species will be able to adapt to the rapid change.

The Fond du Lac Dam on the St. Louis River prevents sturgeon from swimming upstream, but there have been recent attempts to improve habitat for them in the estuary below the dam.  Wild rice, so important to the region, can only grow in clean water, has been replaced by other grasses.  Now that water quality has improved, groups such as the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa are attempting to remove the grasses and replant the wild rice.  There is also an enormous amount of wood waste from now-closed timber and paper operations that is now being removed.  And there's a steel mill superfund site to be cleaned up.  There's a long way to go.

Manhole cover map of Duluth, Minnesota 

Storm sewer (and trout stream), Duluth, Minnesota

Storm Sewer (and trout stream), Duluth, Minnesota

Grain and ore storage, Duluth, Minnesota

Grain and ore storage, Duluth, Minnesota

Grain Storage, Superior, Wisconsin 

Grain Storage, Superior, Wisconsin

Freshwater Ballast Testing Facility, Superior, Wisconsin

Stockton Island, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Stockton Island, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Red Cliff Fish Hatchery, Wisconsin

Fond du Lac Dam, St. Louis River

Radio Tower Bay, St. Louis River Estuary

Mudslide from 2012 storm, St. Louis River Estuary

Wild Rice Restoration, St. Louis River Estuary

Monday, June 15, 2015

Brooklyn Water Supply Long Island Aqueduct, Part 2

Manhole Cover, Freeport

Millburn Creek

 South Pond Spillway, Hempstead Lake State Park

South Pond Gatehouse, Hempstead Lake State Park

Hempstead Lake Gatehouse

Smith Pond

City Water Tunnel No. 3 Ventilation Towers, Part 2

Shaft 5b, 181 Street and Hawthorne Avenue, Bronx

Shaft 6b, West Tremont and Harrison Avenue, Bronx

Shaft 25b, 10 Avenue at W48 Street

Mystery Shaft, Amsterdam Avenue between W165 and W166 Streets

Shaft 27b, Gansevoort Street between W13 and Hudson Streets

Shaft 28b, Hudson St between Clarkson and West Houston Streets

Shaft 29b, Hudson Street between Hubert and Laight Streets

Shaft 30b, Lafayette and Grand Streets

Shaft 31b, East 4 Street between Lafayette Street and Bowery

Friday, May 22, 2015

Brooklyn Water Supply Long Island Aqueduct, Part 1

The City of Brooklyn built its own water supply in the 19th Century.  It was a series of wells, ponds and reservoirs, running from Massapequa to the Ridgewood Reservoir, connected by an aqueduct that ran parallel to Sunrise Highway, and then northwest under what is now called Conduit Boulevard.  Robert Moses swapped most of the land with Nassau County so he could build highways.  The wells are all gone, but the ponds and reservoirs remain, mostly as parks.  the structures are in disrepair, or have been completely destroyed.  I walked from Massapequa to Wantagh to photograph the section furthest from Brooklyn.  I've included two earlier pictures at the bottom; the Massapequa Gatehouse in 1998, before it had a roof (and a coat of red paint) and the Wantagh Pumping Station, before it was  walled in.

Massapequa Gatehouse

Massapequa Gatehouse

Massapequa Spillway

Seaford Creek

Seaford Gatehouse

Wantagh Upper Spillway

Wantagh Lower Spillway

Wantagh Gatehouse

Wantagh Pump Station

Walking Route

Massapequa Gatehouse, 1998

Wantagh Pump Station, 1997

Friday, January 30, 2015

House on Beach 90th Street, Rockaway, 2012-2014 (Robert Moses House)

I photographed this house before Hurricane Sandy, and then immediately after the storm deposited the Rockaway boardwalk in front of the house.  Since then I've gone back several times to monitor reconstruction.  What struck me at first was the unusual shape of the house.  It was one of a pair, but seemed to have a piece of its south side sliced off.  Shore Front Parkway was part of Robert Moses' plan to build an expressway from New York City to Montauk.  This was one small section that he completed.  I believe that the house was sliced up to make way for the highway (see satellite photograph at the bottom.)

Google Satellite photograph