What’s Going On At Secret Pond?


I had a surprise on my early morning run on Thursday (June 16, 2011).  As  I ran past the Arboretum’s Viburnum Garden on Manitou Way I noticed a huge piece of earth-moving equipment (see photo below) parked inside the beautiful stone wall.  The surprise was that this earth mover is not part of the Arboretum’s fleet.  Where did it come from, whose is it, and why is it parked here?

What's Going On Here?

As I ran on home I quickly eliminated possibilities.  I know the Arboretum can’t afford to buy (or even rent) a big earth mover like this.  Weeding the Viburnum gardens is a big job each year but the Arboretum’s Research Gardener takes a more delicate and nuanced approach to weeding; besides, he would not tear up the soil just for the sake of weeding.  So, unless the local chapter of the Monkey Wrench Gang took this monster for a joy ride, the only possibility left was that it will be used to construct the new Secret Pond project at Manitou Way and Nakoma Road.

The fact that I recently learned that the regional DNR regulator approved the project permit,  lent credence to this conclusion.

For those of you not familiar with the Secret Pond project, you can catch up by looking at some of my earlier posts on the topic.

Secret Pond Public Hearing–Update

Notice of Secret Pond Public Hearing

Secret Pond Environmental Assessment

Later, I came back with my camera to investigate and document.  First thing I noticed was a large patch of oil and tar, (see dark patch in center, lower foreground in photo below), that was spread on the lawn probably during unloading, either by the transport trailer or the earth mover itself.

It isn't molasses, or honey; It's black gold!

Tracked in soil and other debris is a violation of conditions placed on the project's Chapter 30 permit

Another alarm was dried and caked soil on the equipment.  This soil was brought in from an earlier project, somewhere else, and who knows where.

The environmental  concern is the potential to bring in pest species, soil-borne viruses and bacteria, and other contaminants.  Sanitation of machinery and equipment (especially in sensitive natural areas such as the Arboretum) is a usual requirement of most construction projects now days and requirements for job-site sanitation are standard  contract specifications.  In fact, regulators of the Secret Pond project are so serious about sanitation of machinery and equipment, that they wrote  sanitation requirements as compliance  conditions of granting the Chapter 30 Clean Water Act permit.  IP-SC-2010-13-02105 to 02107 permit

The purpose of this storm water infrastructure project is to protect and enhance Lake Wingra’s water quality.  Is it getting off to a good start, or a rather shaky one?  Only time will tell.  It’s early yet, work has not begun, and anyone can make a mistake,  but this early slip and inattention to detail means that the project warrants close and continuous observation.

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About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist practicing and writing in the Midwestern United States.
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3 Responses to What’s Going On At Secret Pond?

  1. Pingback: Secret Pond Storm Water Project–Update | WingraSprings

  2. Pingback: Week 1 Summary, Secret Pond Storm Water Project | WingraSprings

  3. Pingback: Novel Ecosystems and Restoration Targets | WingraSprings

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