2011 Status of the Watershed Report

We have a lot of good folks out there that keep an eye on things for us…  Our Friends at Ozarks Water Watch have recently published their 2011 Status of the Watershed Report that I thought I’d share with you…

Please consider joining this wonderful organization to ensure the future of our watershed…

Copy from January Ozarks Water Watch Newsletter below:

How’s the Water?

by David Casaletto

Ozarks Water Watch is happy to present our fourth annual Status of the Watershed report designed to answer the question, “How is the water?” in the Upper White River basin. The rivers, lakes and streams in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas establish a foundation for the region’s economic prosperity and attractive lifestyle. If these waters become polluted or spoiled by unconstrained growth and development, they will diminish the vibrant economy, discourage visitors and tourism, and compromise the enjoyment so many in the region now find in these natural assets.

Status of the Watershed

Historically our status reports have been based only on scientific studies of water conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and science faculty from the University of Arkansas and Missouri State University. This water quality data is definitely the gold standard. But as we all realize, conducting monitoring at that level is expensive and limits the number of sites that can be monitored.

Ozarks Water Watch is embarking on a new project that will combine other sources of water quality monitoring along with USGS data. This will include a program to build on and expand the highly successful volunteer-based Stream Team effort in both Missouri and Arkansas. Properly trained volunteers can provide reliable and valuable water quality data over a large number of sample sites providing for a higher resolution picture of how our lakes, streams and rivers are doing at any given place and time. This year’s 8 page report already includes additional data sources and Ozarks Water Watch will expand and refine our monitoring efforts to continue to bring you the best possible information on our basin’s water quality.

The above graph summarizes three years of biological monitoring by the University of Arkansas within the Upper White River Basin. (For complete information, you can access the 8 page status report online: HERE.) The 14,000 square mile basin reaches across 19 counties in Arkansas and Missouri and is home to a million people. According to USGS data, nutrient pollution is the biggest water quality problem facing the region. Nutrient pollution comes from many sources and drives the growth of the algae that can choke our streams and lakes. Urban and suburban areas contribute polluted runoff from streets, sidewalks, buildings, overfertilized lawns and bad development practices. Runoff from agriculture in rural areas carries nutrients and sediment to streams and lakes. While wastewater treatment methods have improved, many systems have yet to be upgraded and continue to discharge high nutrient effluent into our waters.

Another concern of the general public is if our waters are safe for their “intended recreational uses” such as swimming, boating and fishing. In almost every instance, the test results for the Ozarks streams in this report are safe for whole body contact (swimming). It should be noted that E coli test results from any given day are no indication of what the E coli levels are now as they can vary greatly from day to day. The waters listed in the “RED” zone in the above chart are impaired by nutrients which can be harmful to aquatic life and our fisheries and serve as an indication of where we may want to prioritize our water quality efforts.

The 8 page Status of the Watershed Report is available now online and in print. The print version is available at our offices in Kimberling City and will be distributed at many water quality events and conferences across the Upper White River Basin. The online version in .pdf format can be found here: 2011 Status of the Watershed Report.

Click here for the 19 page UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN MONITORING ANALYSIS which contains the exact test site locations and background testing information on which our Status Report is based.

The water quality problems of the region start and end with us. We created the issues by working and living in the watershed. The roads we drive on, the farms where our food is grown and even the homes we live in contribute to water pollution. By taking ownership of the problem we can begin to fix it.

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