in ensuring that healthy waters reach our neighbors downstream.
The quality of our water depends on how we use the watershed surrounding it. Natural landscapes easily absorb rainfall. Altered landscapes, including both rural and urban development, cause higher rates of runoff. Urban landscapes include mostly hard surfaces such as pavement, buildings, roads and roofs. Even lawns, with their shallow root systems and compacted soil, act like impervious surfaces.
When rain hits these areas, everything in its path, including pesticides, fertilizers, trash, detergents, pet waste, motor oil and more, can flush into storm drains that lead directly to streams and rivers. This creates polluted storm water that can harm aquatic life and make rivers unsafe for swimming and fishing. The large amount of impervious surfaces in urban areas also increases the quantity of storm water entering our waterways leading to erosion and flooding problems.
“A typical city block can generate five times more storm water runoff than a forested area of the same size,” says Angie Weber, MDC community conservation planner.
Ensuring healthy water involves the efforts of everyone. Fortunately, many communities, such as St. Louis, are doing their part to improve watershed conservation. In conjunction with MDC’s community conservation planners, St. Louis installed specially designed pervious concrete sidewalks and 52 rain gardens to capture and treat storm water along South Grand Boulevard, helping to improve area streams. The rain gardens are basins with native plants that act like a sponge, soaking up rainwater that runs off roofs, roads and other hard surfaces. Rain flows through the pervious sidewalks into rock storage areas below, and then water slowly filters into the ground.
BIG RIVER CONSERVATION
MDC is also active in promoting healthy waters and habitats along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. “Missourians are becoming more connected to the big rivers,” says Mark Boone, MDC big river specialist. “The public fishing opportunities are great thanks to MDC sport-fish management efforts, and MDC has greatly improved access with more conservation areas as well as boat ramps developed in partnership with communities all along the rivers. Additionally, national attention on big river water quality has helped promote important habitat conservation work along th Missouri and Mississippi rivers.”
The Department strives to provide healthy and sustainable fish and wildlife habitats along the big rivers. MDC works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other federal and state agencies to