Tires and trash are typical finds when Missouri Steam Team volunteers conduct water cleanups. Plus, volunteers take thousands of samples for ongoing water quality reports. Their latest 2013 report shows reason for concern about nitrate, ammonia and phosphate among other contaminates in public waterways. These can come from a variety of human activities and agricultural sources.
A previous Stream Team report noted that chronic, low levels of pollution can have negative effects on aquatic life. Data showed that 79% of sites tested for aquatic life ranked excellent or good, while 21% ranked fair or poor.
Water quality matters because of what eventually becomes someone’s drinking water. Plus boat rentals, camping and more along scenic waterways are a vital part of Missouri’s $11-billion dollar tourism industry.
When I visited my favorite swimming hole recently where the sycamore trees brush the water’s edge, it was refreshing to find what at least appeared to be a clean creek. If I stepped in the wrong spot, though, the sediment was easily stirred up. The Water Coalition’s reporting shows that waterways in Southwest Missouri tend to have high levels of turbidity or suspended particles that are indicative of soil erosion. Creating treed riparian buffers is one way to preserve riverbanks and reduce this erosion.
A natural spring feeds the deepest, coolest swimming hole tucked away on Indian Creek.
This crawfish seemed to be growing large…one of the largest I’ve seen in a childhood of growing up on the creek.
This shallow water was clear enough to spot, and avoid, a blood-sucking leech that serves its purpose by feeding on even tinier aquatic life.
What appear to be common blue damselflies were busy enough with their mating ritual to ignore the camera.
The Ozarks Watershed Center educates on ways to preserve water quality. A few tips on how you can help preserve clean water include keeping storm water on your property and being careful not to over-fertilize.