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By Echo Menges
Last week, water advocates across the country mobilized to increase awareness about American drinking water systems, infrastructure and the effort to bring clean water to homes and businesses nationwide. Here in Northeast Missouri, water advocates assembled to bring rural water customers into the conversation by asking people to “Imagine a Day Without Water.”
As part of the effort to increase water awareness, Stream Teams United and the Northeast Missouri Clean Water Project partnered with the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the Clarence Cannon Wholesale Water Commission, the Missouri Rural Water Association, MFA Inc. and Missouri River Relief to host a day of clean water education and outreach featuring speakers, presentations and tours.
Members of the press were invited to the CCWWC’s Cecil V. Fretwell Plant situated in rural Stoutsville to learn about where much of the water distributed throughout the region comes from – in the hopes that we would deliver their messages to you – our readers.
The official national day to Imagine a Day Without Water was held on Thursday, October 21, 2021.
“A lot of people just turn on the tap and don’t think about where it will come from,” said Stream Teams United Executive Director Mary Culler during her opening remarks.
Culler highlighted the mission of Missouri’s Stream Team United not-for-profit organization, which is a network of volunteers dedicated to advocacy, education, cleanup and monitoring water quality.
According to their website, the Missouri Stream Team United effort began in 1989 and is a collaborative program of its founding partners, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
“I can’t imagine a day without water. It would be difficult,” said CCWWC General Manager Heath Hall. “Having clean available drinking water is taken for granted.”
Hall presented a slew of information about the CCWWC, which supplies water to over 74,000 people living in 14 Northeast Missouri counties through 23 member systems including 14 cities and nine water supply districts. CCWWC does not sell water directly to the end user, rather, the commission contracts with secondary customers like the the City of Edina, and the Knox, Lewis, Marion and Shelby County Public Water Supply Districts, who then distribute it to their own water customers.
“Our process consists of chemical addition to aid in the settling of solids. We have some pulsating clarifiers, which do the bulk of removal of solids. Then, we have filtration, which is required for all surface water. Then, we have disinfection and we pump it to customers. That’s a real simplistic version,” Hall explained during the event before taking the group on a tour of the water treatment facility.
During the tour of the water treatment facility, Hall showed attendees how the plant operates inside and out in the process that pumps water from the Mark Twain Lake and through the facility before delivering it to customers using a network of over 350 miles of piping.
Agricultural runoff education was a key component to the clean water awareness effort.
“One of the main treatment challenges here has to do with agricultural runoff. We have to remove enough nutrients and organics from that and just from natural erosion. You’ve probably heard of Atrazine. Atrazine is kind of a big challenge to keep that below a certain number. Of course there’s other herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that are also contaminants that we have to remove from the drinking water,” said Hall.
MFA Inc. Conservation Specialist Adam Jones discussed efforts and available technology to reduce agricultural chemical runoff and erosion into watershed systems.
Missouri Rural Water Association Specialist Klark Bohling demonstrated the benefits of no-till farming practices combined with prairie plant and cover crop plantings and how they help water penetrate the ground rather than runoff carrying unwanted chemicals and debris to watershed systems.
Missouri Prairie Foundation Executive Director Carol Davit gave a presentation about using native plants on farmland to control erosion and help water penetrate the ground by utilizing prairie strips and similar native plant practices.
The day ended with a boat tour on the Mark Twain Lake hosted by Missouri River Relief Operations Manager Kevin Totsie who took reporters from Edina, Hannibal and Shelbyville on a ride to the water intake pumps utilized by CCWWC.
The Edina Sentinel and Shelby County Herald represented the NEMOnews Media Group at the event. A full video of the entire CCWWC tour was recorded and will be made available online this week. Look for the recording on edinasentinel.com and shelbycountyherald.com.