Libby Reuter and Joshua Rowan
May 2015
Packer Avenue near St. Clair Avenue
National City, Illinois
N38.64388 W090.16333

Looking west toward the Gateway National Expansion Memorial, the Arch, the Bubble 1 cairn rests in a ditch off Packer Avenue. The road is being revamped and re-ramped to connect with the recently completed Stan Musial Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. The bridge, nicknamed the “Stan Span,” will carry travelers efficiently across the Mississippi River. The new concrete and asphalt roadbed will act in a similar manner to swiftly carry rain and melted snow off the road’s surface. As the water flows, it absorbs and carries dissolved oxygen (DO). Unlike the oil and chemicals from cars and trucks that is washed off the roadbed, this DO has a positive effect on water quality. Not enough oxygen in the water and fish and plants begin to die.

You can’t actually see bubbles of dissolved oxygen in the water; it only takes 10 molecules of oxygen per million molecules of water to make water healthy. The Bubble 1 cairn stands in for the unseen oxygen in this stagnant water and draws attention to the bright green algae on the water’s surface. When this algae decays, bacteria in the water consume the DO, making the water eutrophic, unable to support life. Healthy bodies of water need air, just as people do.