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Simple "Kick" Method Can Prevent Big Problems in Waterways

NIXA, Mo. – A simple method can help prevent large pollutants from damaging waterways in the Ozarks. Joe Pitts from the James River Basin Partnership explains how the "Kicknet" method is simple and effective.
NIXA, Mo. – A simple method can help prevent large pollutants from damaging waterways in the Ozarks. Joe Pitts from the James River Basin Partnership explains how the "Kicknet" method is simple and effective.

Pitts says groups will use gravel beds along the rivers to find macro-invertebrates organisms in the river.

"These guys are pretty well stuck here and they have to deal with whatever the water brings them."

In the Ozarks, different insects will spend most of their life cycle in the water until the adult stage begins to fly.

"Right here, you would be finding things like dragonfly larvae, mayfly larvae, damselfly larvae. A lot of people don't realize that a lot of the insects they see along the stream, the adults, actually spend the bulk of their life here in the water."

This is what helps determine how "healthy" a body of water is in the Ozarks.

"What you want to not find is large numbers of only one or two kinds of creatures. If you don't have the full suite there, over a period of say a year of monitoring, then there is something happening in the water that is not doing well for that particular organism," says Pitts.

Pitts says groups use a kick net and plastic bin to determine what types of organisms are living beneath the surface and under rocks.

"The creatures we are looking for live on those rocks and under those rocks so the only way you can get them to go into that net is to get them to get into the water and drift into the net. So what we are going to do then is what I call the macro-invertebrates dance and you just start kicking your feet. You are turning over as many rocks as you can, getting as much flow into that net as you can. And a lot of these creatures are not really good swimmers."

Depending on the different types and the number of each species can give experts an idea of what could be harming the water.

"What you want to not find is large numbers of only one or two kinds of creatures, or even three kinds. If you don't have the full suite there over a period of say a year of monitoring, then there is something happening in the water that is not doing well for that particular organism. They stick very close to home so if some pollution event were to happen that is not good for them then they will die or they get eaten by, as they drift down stream, by other fish and all that. So you will lose them out of this area if there is a pollution going on. Fish can move away so only in the direst circumstances do fish get caught and you have a fish kill then. That is a really strong immediate pollution event versus seasonal variations in the kinds of organisms that you find out here. But overall, you should keep a diversity level that is about the same."
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