Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Green, And Icky, And It's Got A Story To Tell In Paterson NJ


The numerous raceways (canal like water features that directed water across the hillsides starting just above the Great Falls to power mills) in Paterson NJ culminate at the bottom of the hill at about the same level as the Passaic River. At this lower level, without the aid of gravity, the water barely flows.

Here the green material floating on the surface is actually thousands of tiny plants commonly known as "duck weed." Each plant is about the size of a baby's fingernail with tiny roots that reach into the water. What appears as something yukky is actually quite environmentally beneficial as these plants remove nitrogen, phosporous, and other pollutants from the water.

The name "duck weed" is a common name given to these plants because ducks and water fowl will often eat them. Home watergardeners often include duckweed in their waterscapes because it removes pollutants from fish ponds while making a nice source of food for the fish.

Most people start and stop their exploration of Paterson at the Great Falls, but just a few metres west is the Raceway Historic Park. From there wander a block or two south to discover the winding courses of the raceways around, and through, the former mill buildings. In addition to spotting duckweed, I saw Canada Geese, ducks, a mole, and ffrom a distance what appeared to be a muskrat.