Unwanted paint dumped by some unknown perp into what was probably a storm-water sewer in the Fairacres neighborhood of Omaha flowed south and tainted Wood Creek where it starts at the northwest corner of Memorial Park.
The water was an opaque white, with a solid film on some bits of the downstream portion of the pool, just to the south of Underwood Avenue, near J.E. George Boulevard.
In the background is the storm-water drain that was the source of the paint pollution. The watershed for this creek extends quite a distance to the north.
This was the situation when the scene was revisited mid-afternoon March 29th, after having appreciating a pair of boisterous Carolina Wrens present during the noon hour. After writing an appreciative essay about the wrens, which undoubtedly struggled to survive the perils of winter, it seemed very apropos to get a view of the scene to get a view of the setting.
It was quite a surprise to arrive to a polluted place in no way conducive to a natural setting.
There were no wrens, yet four Wood Ducks were about, going about their daily routine. Thankfully they were chased away before their beauteous feathers could get tainted by some foreign substance.
What was the situation? How should it be dealt with? Something needs to be done. Now.
After taking some pictures to importantly document the condition, with righteous vigor my bicycling continued to a phone where a call was made to 911, with the report of a hazardous waste spill. Details were given and the operator said an appropriate response would be dispatched.
So my afternoon outing meant pedaling back to the scene, and an arrival about the same time as a truck of Omaha Fire and Rescue. The men jumped out, and walked over to take a look from up along the street. Soon the suitably equipped Haz-Mat 2 rig arrived, and this crew had to go to work to analyze the situation.
One man got suited up with boots, supplemental air, sealed garb and the whole works, and the crew then made their their way down the very steep west bank of the creek.
A sample of the material was taken, placed into a vial and carefully returned to the truck for analysis.
The rest of the gathered Omaha agency men watched closely, and this included two officers of the Omaha Police Department.
During the time, the cars with students from St. Margaret Mary School, a couple of blocks downstream, were driving past, along the avenue, surely wondering what was happening.
While awaiting results of the analysis a query was posed to the police officer, as to whether it was proper to have called officials? He said yes.
The same question was asked of the haz-mat crew, and they agreed, saying that it was their job to respond to situations and to evaluate the situation to determine if there was a hazard.
At least a proper decision had been made about making the call.
The final verdict? It was latex paint, as determined by a computer analysis.
The fire department men thought it best to let the water flow dilute and carry away the dumped paint, without any assistance.
If there is one slight benefit of the whole event, it was timing. There may be some people wondering what had happened at the creek. At least the creek might get some attentive consideration of one sort or another.
After their well-done work, and an attentive discussion of the situation, the emergency responders were thanked for their effort and attentive response. Then they left.
My next 30 minutes were spent using a hefty stick - as hazardous matter may be present - to move around leaves, concrete rubble, sticks and twigs, as well as plastic trash bags to improve the flow of the waters so the gathered paint pollution would move along and flow onward, away from the culvert-created pool on the south, park-side of Underwood Avenue.
With the constricted flow at the site, over some concrete rubble and among fallen tree matter, at least there will be some ripple effect and mixing to aerate and improve the quality of the water somewhat before it continues to flow along the west side of Memorial Park, then further along into the natural habitat of Elmwood Park. The whole stretch is a current haven for a bunch of Wood Ducks which had been counted during the morning's bird survey.
Wood Ducks obviously do not mix well with paint in the waters.
The Carolina Wrens were not heard or seen during the whole time. What a shame if the pair were chased away by disturbance due to an ignorant perp in some so-called uptown neighborhood ... some person obviously indifferent and ignorant to what they wrought by doing what they thought was something so simple and in no way malicious! What ignorance this conveys.
The perp(s) should be billed for the expenses of the emergency responders, and then have to pay a hefty fine for dumping and water pollution.
While talking with the two police men, they said what happened would not be littering, but would go to the next level and be classified as dumping. This would mean a greater fine for the ignorant violator. This seems to be proper considering what happened once the paint was poured into the drainageway.
Idiots abound, apparently indifferent as Omaha officials, the parks, and its natural residents deal with the unwanted and negative results.