'We can all play a part': Water Protection encourages community involvement

Aug. 7—The St. Joseph Water Protection division is ensuring the quality of waterways in the area during National Water Quality Month.

People across Northwest Missouri rely on the various bodies of freshwater for agriculture, recreation and drinking water, but much of that water requires sampling and treatment in order to create a healthy environment.

Everyday pollutants from lawn herbicides and pesticides to petroleum products often enter sewage and storm drains that deposit into larger bodies of water, but St. Joseph Water Protection said that there are several ways in which individuals and businesses can help limit pollution.

"We can all play a part and it doesn't have to be crazy efforts, just small things, like don't blow any trash into a storm drain, pick up trash whenever you see it, don't blow your yard clippings and yard waste into storm drains or into creeks and rivers," said Colleen Armstrong, Stormwater Quality Coordinator.

After heavy rainfall, paved surfaces like asphalt, concrete and roofs frequently contribute to this pollution as rainwater picks up heavy metal deposits and discharges them into tributaries and streams.

Poor water quality as a result of polluted runoff could have severe negative impacts on both humans and wildlife.

"If we're not protecting our drinking water source, people could get sick or we could lose a lot of our aquatic organisms and our wildlife based on that. That is their home, their drinking water source or their food drinking water source," said Armstrong. "We could see big fish kills, which would hurt our recreation, fishing, swimming or boating, making the water unsafe for people to enjoy."

St. Joseph Water Protection won the 2020 Missouri Wastewater Plant for their water quality treatments, which prevent damage to natural resources, but they continue to encourage community members to remain conscious of their impact on water sources.

Lilyann Gardner can be reached at lilyann.gardner@newspressnow.com