That’s what reader Jennifer Munro wondered a few days ago. “All of the waterfalls/moving water have been shut off the last two times I’ve gone.”
Everything was normal on Dec. 31, she remembered, but on Jan. 10 and 17 the water features were turned off. She worried about the whole place being drained and turned into mud. If so, “the waterfowl there will take a tremendous hit.”
It won’t come to that, and even if there was only mud, ducks and other denizens of the Talking Gardens presumably could fly, hop or scoot across to First or Second Lakes and survive the winter there.
But Albany Wastewater Superintendent Kristin Preston told me Monday the water was back on after being recently turned off. Let her explain:
“We do this in the winter,” she wrote in an email. “When the Willamette River level gets high enough, it can cause a backup of water in the wetland. To prevent flooding and damage we stop pumping water to the wetland and close a check valve in the pipe to the river so there is no water going in or out. The high river levels and heavy rains in late December and early January caused us to do this.”
Further, “I’m told by Joe Deardorff, our natural treatment system specialist, that he left the levels down a bit longer this time to get some oxygen to the plant roots. He also said that occasionally lowering the pond levels promotes the roots to go deeper for water which strengthens the root system of the wetland plants.”
And she added, ‘We often get these questions, so thanks for asking.”
The bike took me to the Talking Waters on Saturday. That day and other times when I’ve passed the place on the Cox Creek Path, people were walking the trails. There were not so many as to form a crowd, but enough to show that even in winter this wastewater treatment installation has become a popular place to go for a walk. (hh)