After a series of tests, the mysterious sea foam that has been appearing on Huck Finn Pond at LaPrele Park was determined to be harmless.
University of Wyoming engineering student Celyn Rogers presented the findings from research he did at the pond with Austin Yahn, another UW engineering student, to the Environmental Advisory Committee during its regular meeting on Thursday.
Darren Parkin, the city’s water resources administrator, said the foam has been a “recurring thing” brought to the city’s attention. In a partnership with the city, Rogers and Yahn conducted a series of tests on the water in October, looking at factors like oxygen levels and amounts of inorganic matter.
“The water quality of Huck Finn Pond is pretty important, because it’s the fishing pond for kids under 13,” Rogers said. “There’s a lot of people going out there, and that pond is pretty well used in town.”
Their investigation, led by UW assistant professor Kevin Befus, involved collecting samples of the water and submitting it to a series of tests, some even at the state level. Rogers said the data showed healthy levels of nitrates and amounts of inorganic matter within U.S. Department of Environmental Quality regulations.
The organic material in and around the pond, including the fish and nearby trees, is what is likely creating the foam, Rogers said.
“Our theory is that the organic matter is decomposing in the water and creates microorganisms,” Rogers said. “Once that water goes through the head gate and is churned up, that agitation of the water causes the foam.”
He added the group determined the foam is “completely harmless.”
“We think the pond is perfectly safe for kids and fishing, and there’s nothing the public should be concerned about,” Rogers said.
In addition to determining the water’s safety, the data from the investigation also led the students to an interesting conclusion about the water’s origin.
“We were under the assumption the whole time that Huck Finn Pond was fed from the Casper Aquifer,” Rogers said. “This [data] led us to conclude Huck Finn Pond’s spring is actually from the Chugwater-Forelle location; so, it’s not Casper water.”
Committee member Brad Carr said Casper Aquifer water may still be the true origin for the springs at the pond, even if the water went through the Forelle and the Chugwater aquifers before making it to LaPrele Park.
“I don’t know if I’d be quite so bold about saying it’s definitely Forelle water and not Casper water,” Carr said. “I think in general it seems it’s probably Casper water that’s sitting longer in the Chug and the Forelle [aquifers].”
Parkin said the project was an example of a “great collaboration” between the city and the university.
“Hopefully we can continue with projects like this in the future,” Parkin said.