Coalition Report

Alicia Lloyd,
Clean Water Policy Coordinator
Missouri Coalition
for the Environment

Summer’s here! Find out what you need to know about your watershed before diving in!

Summer brings sunshine, warmth, and ample opportunities to explore and enjoy Missouri’s bountiful waterways and lakes. As you’re making plans to get out on your favorite canoeing or swimming spot, it’s a great time to reflect on why we’re able to swim and play in some waters and not others. We can all do our part to reduce the pollutants entering our abundant and valuable waters.

Everyone lives in a watershed! Also known as a drainage basin or catchment, a watershed is an area of land that drains to a common point “shedding” water from higher points to lower areas flowing into creeks, rivers, wetlands, or lakes. Watersheds can range from a few acres to thousands of square miles and contain hundreds of sub-watersheds. The connection between water and land connect human beings’ activities to the health of our water resources. People’s choices on the land directly impact the quality of water we drink and the fish, birds, and other organisms that inhabit our rivers, streams, and lakes.

Streets, parking lots, and driveways are impervious – water cannot penetrate them – so they act like a network conveying stormwater while picking up pollution from oil, yard fertilizers and pesticides, and pet waste along the way. Polluted water enters storm drains where it is directed into nearby waters. When we don’t pick up pet waste or over apply yard fertilizer, harmful pollutants are carried by stormwater directly to our streams and creeks and threaten the water supply.

The lessons of Flint, Michigan reflect how important it is to safeguard our common resources. Clean water is critical for all of our daily needs, from drinking and bathing to swimming and kayaking. The many connections and interconnections between water and the land over which it flows means that our choices add up. Simple choices you can make to support the health of your watershed include: picking up after your pet every time even in the backyard, using phosphorus-free fertilizer (go organic!) on gardens and lawns, and planting native vegetation to absorb rainwater before it enters storm drains.

Find out more about other ways you can improve the health of your watershed, about MCE’s clean water policy work, and how you can pledge to be a Watershed Warrior at www.moenvironment.org/watershedwarrior.