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Environmental Issues in Rural Ozarks[Part_1]

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/environmen_3210.mp3

This segment of Making a Difference Where You Live focuses on water quality in the Ozarks. Michele Skalicky talks to representatives of two groups working to make a difference in that area.

MAD ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN RURAL OZARKS AM

WELCOME TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU LIVE, A SERIES FOCUSING ON HOW VOLUNTEERISM AND PHILANTHROPY MEET THE NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE OZARKS. DURING THIS SERIES, WE EXPLORE A DIFFERENT TOPIC EACH QUARTER, FOCUSING INDEPTH ON THE PEOPLE AND EVENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE HERE IN THE OZARKS.

TODAY ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE WE TAKE A LOOK AT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN THE RURAL OZARKS AND MEET SOME OF THE PEOPLE WORKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THAT AREA.

SUPPORT FOR THE SERIES IS PROVIDED BY THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE OZARKS.

ONE OF THE TOP ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN THE OZARKS BOTH RURAL AND URBAN IS WATER QUALITY.

THE AREA'S KARST TOPOGRAPHY, WITH ITS NUMEROUS CAVES AND SINKHOLES, ALLOWS POLLUTANTS TO EASILY CONTAMINATE ITS GROUNDWATER.

BUT THERE ARE SEVERAL GROUPS WORKING TO HELP IMPROVE THE WATER QUALITY IN THE OZARKS.

ONE OF THOSE IS THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN FOUNDATION BASED IN BRANSON.

THE FOUNDATION'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STEVE STEWART SAYS THE GROUP'S GOAL IS TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY ON THE WHITE RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES UNTIL LAKES BEAVER, TABLE ROCK, TANEYCOMO AND BULL SHOALS ARE CLASSIFIED AS THE CLEANEST MAN-MADE IMPOUNDMENTS IN NORTH AMERICA THEY'VE SET A TARGET DATE OF 2020.

THE FOUNDATION IS FUNDED PRIMARILY THROUGH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ITS BOARD MEMBERS, AND IT'S CURRENTLY IN THE THIRD YEAR OF ADMINISTERING A WATERSHED INITIATIVE GRANT FROM THE EPA.

THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN ENCOMPASSES ABOUT 10 COUNTIES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE MISSOURI/ARKANSAS BORDER

STEWART SAYS WATER QUALITY HAS IMPROVED SIGNIFICANTLY IN THE AREA IN RECENT YEARS, PARTICULARLY IN TABLE ROCK LAKE. HE POINTS TO THE IMPROVEMENTS IN SPRINGFIELD WHERE THE CITY SET A PHOSPHOROUS LIMIT OF A HALF PART PER MILLION AT ITS WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTl

ACCORDING TO STEWART, POLLUTION IN ANY WATERSHED COMES FROM SEVERAL SOURCES INCLUDING FERTILIZED LAWNS AND GOLF COURSES, RUN-OFF FROM PARKING LOTS, DIRT ROADS AND FIELDS THAT ARE HAYED.

THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN FOUNDATION IS CURRENTLY WORKING WITH THE TOWN OF BRADLEYVILLE TO REPLACE ITS SEPTIC TANKS. PRELIMINARY DESIGN WORK IS NOW BEING DONE. ACCORDING TO STEWART, WHEN THE PROJECT'S COMPLETE, EVERY RESIDENT OF BRADLEYVILLE WILL GET A NEW SEPTIC TANK, AND THE VILLAGE OF BRADLEVILLE WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR MAINTENANCE AND UPKEEP. STEWART SAYS THE PROJECT IS BADLY NEEDED.

STEWART SAYS HE HOPES THAT PROJECT WILL SERVE AS A MODEL FOR IMPROVING THE WATER QUALITY IN OTHER SMALL TOWNS.

SEPTIC TANKS ARE A SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM IN THE BRYANT CREEK, THE NORTH FORK, THE 11 POINT AND THE UPPER SPRING RIVER TRIBUTARIES WATERSHEDS, ACCORDING TO LOIS REBORNE, DIRECTOR OF THE BRYANT WATERSHED EDUCATION PROJECT.

SHE SAYS A LOT OF RESIDENTS IN THOSE WATERSHEDS HAVE UNTREATED WELLS ALONG WITH SEPTIC TANKS OR ANOTHER TYPE OF WASTEWATER SYSTEM.

ACCORDING TO REBORNE, THERE ARE STILL SEPTIC TANKS IN THE CITY OF WEST PLAINS. SHE SAYS SHE'S A POSTER CHILD FOR THE PROBLEM OF POORLY INSTALLED OR NON-EXISTENT WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS.

THERE WAS AN OLD DECAYING METAL SEPTIC TANK ON THE PROPERTY AS WELL.

REBORNE DIDN'T GET A MORTGAGE, AND SHE BOUGHT THE PROPERTY WITHOUT ANYONE TELLING HER THAT THE SEPTIC SYSTEM THERE WAS SUBSTANDARD. BUT THE COMPANY THAT INSTALLED HER NEW SEPTIC SYSTEM HAD TO GET A PERMIT FROM THE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT.

REBORNE SAYS THERE ARE MANY WASTEWATER SYSTEMS LIKE HER OLD ONE IN HOMES ALL OVER THE AREA.

IT'S DIFFICULT TO CONVINCE PEOPLE TO MAKE CHANGES. REBORNE SAYS SOME PEOPLE RESIDE IN THE OZARKS TO LIVE FREE, AND THEY DON'T WANT OTHERS TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO. SHE SAYS HER ORGANIZATION TRIES TO EDUCATE PEOPLE IN A WAY THAT THEY WILL HEAR AND UNDERSTAND.

THE BRYANT WATERSHED EDUCATION PROJECT MAINLY TARGETS CHILDREN THROUGH A VARIETY OF SPECIAL EVENTS AND PROJECTS.

REBORNE FEELS THEY'RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN A KEY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE HERE WATER QUALITY.

DESPITE PROBLEMS SUCH AS FAULTY WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS IN THE HOWELL COUNTY AREA, LOIS REBORNE SAYS WATER QUALITY IN BRYANT CREEK, THE NORTH FORK, THE ELEVEN POINT AND THE UPPER SPRING RIVER TRIBUTARIES IS VERY GOOD. BUT SHE SAYS THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE THREATS.

LOIS REBORNE IS HOPEFUL THE BRYANT WATERSHED EDUCATION PROJECT'S EFFORTS WILL MAKE A LONG-TERM DIFFERENCE IN THAT AREA'S WATER QUALITY.

THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN FOUNDATION IS BEING PROACTIVE IN HELPING TO IMPROVE THE WATER QUALITY OF THAT WATERSHED. IT'S HOSTED SEVERAL SUMMITS ON BOTH THE ARKANSAS AND MISSOURI SIDES THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER A DIVERSE GROUP OF LEADERS, AND IT HOSTED A JOINT SUMMIT LAST OCTOBER.

THE FOUNDATION IS WORKING WITH MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS TO HOST ANOTHER SUMMIT IN APRIL IN BRANSON. STEWART SAYS HE AND THE FOUNDATION'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS WANT TO MAKE SURE PARTICIPANTS WALK AWAY KNOWING THAT THINGS WILL GET DONE.

THIS AFTERNOON AT 4:36 WE'LL TALK TO GREENE COUNTY PRESIDING COMMISSIONER DAVE COONROD ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSES FACING RURAL PARTS OF THE COUNTY. YOU'LL ALSO LEARN ABOUT WAYS FARMERS AND OTHER LANDOWNERS ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN HELPING TO BRING MISSOURI'S BOBWHITE QUAIL POPULATION BACK UP AND RESTORING THE STATE'S NATIVE GRASSES. BOB SCHROEPPEL IS PRIVATE LANDS SUPERVISOR FOR THE MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION. HE SAYS MOST OF MISSOURI'S LANDS ARE IN PRIVATE OWNERSHIP, AND HE SAYS IT'S VITAL THAT THE DEPARTMENT OFFER HELP FOR THOSE LANDOWNERS IN MAKING CHANGES FOR CONSERVATION.

SUPPORT FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU LIVE IS PROVIDED BY THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE OZARKS.

FOR KSMU, I'M MICHELE SKALICKY.

Links:

  • Upper White River Basin Foundation
  • Missouri Department of Conservation Online
  • Bryant Watershed Education Project