Coalition Report

by Kathleen Logan Smith
Executive Director; Missouri Coalition For The Environment

Summer: Here’s Your Chance to Get In

Stepping into a spring-fed stream on a Missouri summer day demands fortitude as hot skin meets icy cold water. Gasping for breath, easing into the water only prolongs the discomfort. Children have the right idea, just dive in. Ahhh. Seriously. Get in. This is your invitation to get to know better our small spot of the planet.

Missouri is home to thousands of springs, including Big Spring in Van Buren, credited with being the largest spring in Missouri and one of the largest in the world. Big Spring supplies the Current River in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways with more than 278 million gallons of icy, clear water per day. While Big Springs is worth the three hour drive to get there, St. Louis is lucky to share the Ozark geography known as “Karst,” which is characterized by limestone, caves, and springs. One of St. Louis county’s largest springs bubbles continuously next to Kiefer Creek Road near Castlewood State Park. It and many smaller springs feed Kiefer Creek, which winds through Ellisville and Ballwin before meeting the Meramec River in Castlewood State Park.

Why not dedicate part of your summer to getting to know Kiefer Spring and the creek it feeds? We at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment invite you to join Lorin Crandall, our Clean Water Director, on Saturday, July 14th at 10 a.m. for our monthly Kiefer Creek hike in Castlewood State Park. Bring your loved ones – even the canine kind. Then check in at noon for a meeting of the Kiefer Creek Watershed Committee and learn how Kiefer Creek can be spared the destruction that has ravaged most of our urban streams. Going to see these springs can be a great educational experience for you and your kids!

Kiefer Creek is one of the last small streams in St. Louis County that still resembles its natural state. It is not prone to extreme flash flooding, still supports fish and water critters, and appears clean enough to swim in. Kiefer Creek is primarily spring-fed and has relatively unaltered Karst topographic features, including two of the largest flowing springs in St. Louis County – Kiefer Spring and Sontag Spring. Long-time residents of St. Louis County will remember how in the early part of the last century, the area around Castlewood was a summer resort where city folks brought their families to splash in the creek and the Meramec River to escape the city heat. History buffs will note the crumbling staircases on the bluff and foundations of lodges and stores, evidence of these days long past.

Despite its good condition, pollution problems still impact Kiefer Creek. As part of our Kiefer Creek Watershed Restoration Project, we monitor water quality at locations throughout the watershed to help identify sources of pollution. Visitors must beware of times when the bacteria levels in the stream climb to unsafe proportions. Our data show that bacteria levels are unsafe most often after a rain event and that the creek is cleanest during dry spells. We are developing a Watershed Management Plan to help solve the bacteria problem and preserve the creek from other negative impacts like salt runoff, which can kill fish, and erosion, which can cloud the water with sediment and disrupt life cycles of aquatic animals.

The watershed committee meets quarterly to review new data and planning milestones. Please join us July 14th. Getting to know a watershed inside out is a great way to build a long-term relationship with our place on the planet. RSVP by calling (314) 727-0600 or visit http://kiefercreek.weebly.com.