By Phoebe Coburn
Journeys School ninth and tenth graders spent an afternoon last week learning about Karns Meadow. Carlin Girard, our Water Resource Specialist, gave an animated lesson on how the wetland system filters as much as 27% of the runoff from the town of Jackson. A primary source of that runoff is the mountain of snow piled up on the Fair Grounds. That snow has to go somewhere, and almost all of it, by design, melts into Karns Meadow.
Snow removed from the streets owned by the Town of Jackson is piled up and stored at the Fair Grounds all winter, and with it comes salts, metals, hydrocarbons and other pollutants deposited on the roadways. One source of these pollutants that we don’t often think about is our tires—as we drive around, our tires disintegrate bit by bit and are left on the roads.
The result is one filthy snow pile. But exactly how filthy? The Journeys School students were curious to see how much sediment is stored in the snow pile, so they took a five-gallon bucket of snow back to the classroom. Once the snow melted, Elyce Gosselin, the Natural Resources Technician here at Teton Conservation District, helped the students filter the meltwater in order estimate the total suspended solids (TSS) in the runoff. TSS is the dry-weight of the suspended particles (not including dissolved solids) in a sample of water. Based on the small amount of water filtered, Elyce estimated the TSS to be 2075.37 mg/L. For comparison, TSS in Flat Creek is usually less than 10 mg/L, depending on the site and the time of year. If you want to learn more about how Karns Meadow prevents contaminants from entering waterways, check out the cool video of Carlin below.