Polluted water is a threat to all of us— humans and horses alike. This winter, snow and ice brought more than risky road conditions to the mid-Atlantic region. To protect public safety, trucks spread tons of salt and brine along roadways. The unintended consequence; risks to the environment, including sources of drinking water.
To combat this threat and others to freshwater streams and rivers, Stroud Water Research Center is guiding an effort to mobilize and train a network of volunteers, currently more than 160 strong, throughout the Delaware River basin to monitor water quality. The network includes 120 sites and uses the Stroud Center’s KnviroIMY Monitoring Stations to collect data in real time. The data can then be viewed anywhere in the world on Monitor My Watershed (monitormywatershed.org), an online tool for sharing and visualizing environmental data.
Using this technology, volunteers with TookanyVTacony-Frankfbrd Watershed Partnership in Philadelphia measured electrical conductivity (which rises with salinity) as high as 58,000 microsicmens per centimeter—higher than typical seawaier— after winter storms. Near-seawater conductivity spikes have been measured in some tributaries to the Brandywine, Chester, Tacony and Wissahickon creeks, and half-seawater spikes have been measured in other tributaries to the Brandywine, Tacony, and Cobbs creeks.
In reviewing the data collected by these volunteers and others, Stroud Center senior scientist John Jackson observed an alarming trend: salt concentrations in some streams remain elevated year-round. Worse yet, published research from Jackson and entomologist David Funk indicates that salt is even more toxic to aquatic life during summer months, when the stream water is warmer. “Without these volunteers and the large network we’re building, it would’ve been much harder to find these problem sites,” says Jackson. “The next step is to do something about it.”
Through its multimillion-dollar Delaware River Watershed Initiative, the William Penn Foundation is funding the effort that is supporting the Stroud Center and more than 50 other leading nonprofits working together to reduce threats to water quality for the 15 million people—more than 5 percent of the U.S. population— who get their drinking water from the Delaware River basin.
Some advice is best ignored—like the warning Penn Vet New Bolton Center’s Dr. Kyla Ortved received while volunteering in a small animal clinic as a teenager. One of the clinicians told her vet school was too hard to get into. The woman recommended that Ortved do something else.
Fortunately for horse owners, students and veterinary science in general, Ortved paid little attention. Twice board-certified (by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation), Ortved is now a rising star in equine sports medicine and large-animal surgery. She runs the Ortved Laboratory at New Bolton Center, which studies post-traumatic osteoarthritis and explores regenerative medicine therapies to benefit horses and humans. “I have a very specific memory of when I decided to specialize in surgery,” says the Jacques Jenny Endowed Term Chair in Orthopedic Surgery. “During one of my externships, a resident invited me to participate in a procedure. The horse was under anesthesia for a surgery to cut the check ligament for club feet. I helped with the surgery and realized, ‘This is it.’ And it still is. When I’m doing surgery, I lose track of time. I’m where I’m meant to be.”
Recently, Ortved treated Osada, a two-month-old Friesian with a left tibial fracture. “She was kicked by another horse,” says Daniel Lapp, owner of Red Crest Stables in Gordonville, Pa. “Our vet came to the farm to check her and asked if we’d want to pursue surgery, although she said it was a long shot.”
But a long shot is better than no shot. The referring vet sent Osada’s X-rays to Ortved for an opinion. “It was a really severe fracture that was complicated by a second fracture at the growth plate at the top of the bone,” Ortved says. “In foals we usually see one or the other but rarely both. I knew it would be a bit more challenging to repair.”
The doctor put Osada’s prognosis at 50 percent. “I said go for it,” recalls Lapp. The New Bolton Center surgical team prepped the horse. Dr. Dean Richardson, Charles W. Raker Professor of Equine Surgery, also scrubbed in. Osada was placed under general anesthesia, and two long, locking compression plates were carefully screwed into the bone in two places, a fracture repair approach for humans Richardson adopted for equines early in his career. After a lengthy, complex procedure, they closed the incision in several layers, covering it with a light bandage. “The thing we’re most worried about in these cases is the implant becoming infected and the repair staying together,” Ortved says.
A few days after the operation, Ortved’s fears came true. The wound opened and fluid leaked from horse’s leg. “We cleaned the incision and placed a wound VAC over it to help with drainage,” she says.
A bacterial culture found infection, so Ortved changed the horse’s antibiotics. When Osada’s comfort didn’t improve, Ortved took her back to the operating room to lavage the wound. “She had an infection in the joint,” Ortved says. “We flushed the joint and placed antibiotic-impregnated bone cement in the wound to help with healing.”
The treatment worked. The wound started to close, and Osada slowly improved. She was discharged a few weeks after her last procedure. “In the horse world, many people still think that fractures mean euthanasia,” Ortved says. “Over the past several decades, there have been so many advances in nursing care materials, anesthesia and surgical approaches that fractures don’t have to mean death. There are more options today.”