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Spring forth from the karstPosted Wednesday, July 20, 2011, at 3:14 PM
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Sitting on the Springs' Committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission, a very active behind the scenes committee that over the years has done systematic testing of various springs which develops a pattern of data on water quality, I hear the word karst more often than most. I'm no geologist, but in practical terms, I know that karst means swiss cheese underfoot.
Whatever liquids or water soluble chemicals (like salt) you put on the ground is going to end up in the ground water. The soluble rock on which the ground sits melts slowly over centuries wherever water flows or trickles creating holes, channels and caves. When the water pops out of a hillside, we call it a spring.
The water that comes out of our springs is a direct outflow of our karst geology. Spring testing has shown us that the water quality at upper and lower Basin Spring is different. Sweet Spring ain't so sweet if you're looking for a drink, at least after people living somewhere above Sweet Spring flush their toilet(s).
Harding Spring is hardly water you want to touch, let alone drink. Grotto Spring is usually just a trickle, not enough to fill a tin cup in a reasonable amount of time, although we now know that after a big rain it can gush enough water to move a hillside.
Springs come and go. Whatever happened to Dairy Spring? I've seen old pictures, but I haven't seen the spring itself. Has anyone alive today seen Dairy Spring?
How many people have seen what is purportedly the spring with the greatest water flow -- Ozarka Spring? Where is it? Where is Minnehaha Spring as described in book 1, page 52, (Ord. No. 81, 2-16-1882)?
One of the functions of the Springs' Committee's testing, under the leadership of Barbara Harmony with the scientific expertise of Jamie Froelich, Jim Helwig, Joe Scott and Patrick Pruitt among others, is the goal of "one clean spring" -- one in which we can eventually take a sip without microorganisms wreaking havoc inside our bodies.
Testing suggests Magnetic Spring is the best candidate. I'll drink to that, someday I hope.
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Steven Foster is a world renowned botanical photographer. He has published many books, including 2 for National Geographic
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