Missouri Stream Team Clean Water Refresher

Mark Smith Using Catch and Release Fishing
Valley Water Mill Lake
Mark Smith showed off his morning's catch of crappie before he released it back into Valley Water Mill Lake.  He and several other Springfield, Missouri-area residents were spending the morning at the popular fishing hole that also contains largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill.  The lake reopened in early March of 2012 after being stocked with fish three years earlier.  The waterfront is now part of a new environmental education setting called the Watershed Center.

Whether attracting anglers, families or school groups, the Watershed Center is drawing everyone in for the common purpose of protecting sources of clean drinking water.  Indoors and out are classroom settings, as simple as a lakeside walking trail or a spot to sit and talk near the spring.  "Water connects us all," says Holly Neill, "It's a resource we should not take for granted."  Neill is Executive Director of the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition.  She leads the coalition that connects and supports at least 18 different groups concerned with water quality throughout the Show Me State.  This includes those connected to the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, which is showcasing education through the new Watershed Center.
Executive Director Holly Neill
Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition
Algae Growth
Water quality testing at the Center's Valley Water Mill Lake would be an example of ongoing work happening at that site and numerous others around the state.  Watershed Center Director Mike Kromrey notes that excessive algae growth is a concern and can come from a variety of pollution sources.  Yet, the MSTWC's statewide report on invertebrate creatures living in streams is somewhat positive.  Using those tiny inhabitants as indicators of water quality, the report summarizes that 40% of Missouri stream sites are in excellent condition, with 38% in good condition.  Neill characterizes the overall biological data involved in that study (looking at stream quality from 1993-2010) as "pretty good."  She says the next level of research would involve water chemistry, a study that her group has yet to complete.

Trees Planted Along Stream
Best management practices on display at the Watershed Center are the sorts of things the MSTWC is promoting for the sake of clean water quality.  Use of rain gardens, riparian buffers and sustainable gardening methods are  examples.  Neill says we should all know where our drinking water comes from, because "Everything you do in your community affects the water quality in the watershed you're living in."  Here are more tips from Neill for doing our part to preserve clean water:

*Manage septic tanks to prevent wastewater pollution

*Use soil tests to know precisely what your lawn and garden needs so you won't overfertilize

*Incorporate native landscaping whenever possible

*Add rain barrels to catch rooftop water

*Keep stormwater on your property instead of letting it run off

Learn more about the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition at this link.

Schedule your group's next educational outing by contacting the Watershed Center here.

Ozarks Watershed Center

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