Oliver's Ozarks: Meet the Stream Team

By David Oliver | doliver@kolr10.com

Published 08/13 2014 08:25PM

Updated 08/13 2014 10:51PM

HICKORY COUNTY, Mo. -- Lakes, rivers and streams are an important part of life in Missouri. State agencies are tasked with keeping our waters clean, but for 25 years, thousands of unsung heroes have been helping with that effort.

"It's like a fine-tuned machine really,” Carl Romesburg, a stream team member, says.

The team creates ripples in the little Niangua River, to see what kind of bugs live in the water.

“You want to learn more about how healthy the water is, not just how it looks,” Romesburg says.

Local stream team volunteers are some 7,000 of these teams across the state. They take water samples to check quality and cleanliness and report the results to the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Conservation.

“We do take the air and water temperature. Ph. Conductivity. Turbidity. And that tells us about the health of the stream,” Romesburg says.

"It's important to both agencies to have these volunteers that do a lot of work to improve streams, stream health, water quality,” says Craig Fuller, with the Department of Conservation.

Fuller says the work of stream teams like this helped his agency focus on watersheds that need improvement.

“Teams are as small as one person or dozens of people in a stream team,” says Fuller. “So you can imagine the hours those people put in for water quality."

"People will come out and do this whether you have to break ice, or wade streams,” says Romesburg.

The water being tested here ends up flowing into Lake of the Ozarks. So this team knows its work has an impact downstream, and it's all about keeping Missouri’s 110,000 miles of flowing waterclean.

"And hopefully just educate folks on what we can do to make it a little easier on our streams,” says Romesburg.

"Stream teams are the epitome of citizens in Missouri,” says Fuller. “Citizens in Missouri are extremely interested in the forest fish and wildlife resources of the state, and doing what they can to help the conservation department and other agencies manage those resources for the best quality we can."

Stream teams also do a lot in terms of education about water quality issues around the state, most notably you hear about these teams doing litter pick up along shorelines.

Some of the folks involved in the team we were following are retired biology teachers, so this kind of testing is right up their alley.

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