Celebrate Ozarks Water: Reducing stormwater runoff can benefit lakes, rivers

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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Table Rock Lake is a popular destination for summer time getaways and family fun.

"We have thousands of visitors coming throughout the summer to Kimberling City and to Table Rock Lake, and we love to have them but we definitely don't want to have that impact our lake and water quality," said Gopala Borchelt, senior projects director with Ozarks Water Watch.

Contaminants like motor oil, fertilizer, grease, and gas can be harmful to fish habitats and our health. Businesses around the lake are taking action to reduce the amount of waste that runs off into the waterway. Store owners at the Kimberling City Shopping Center helped pay to replace their three acre concrete parking lot with a more eco-friendly concrete paver system.

"What we wanted to do here is to have the water infiltrate down through the pavement and into the underlying soil because what that does is it helps to clean up the kinds of contaminants that we don't want flowing off into Table Rock Lake," Borchelt said.

Underneath the pavers is two feet of gravel and then a layer of soil which allows water and contaminants to soak into the ground then be broken down by the soil instead of flowing straight into the lake.

In Springfield, local water quality advocate groups are also joining in this effort to reduce storm water runoff. At the Watershed Center of the Ozarks you'll find many features, from rain barrels to natural vegetation gardens all specifically designed to conserve water and filter runoff.

"We have things like rain gardens, we do rainwater harvesting, we have detention basins and a wetland and different ways to showcase how we can get water into that ground. We want to think not about drainage but about recharge, about soaking water into the ground," said Mike Kromrey, executive director for Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.

They too have installed a more pervious concrete to help with water quality.

"When you have a lot of impervious surfaces like concrete and rooftops, the water flash floods worse," said Kromrey.

"Also that water quality can be very poor. It will have things in it like bacteria, fertilizer, sediment from erosion, and those are the kinds of things we want to keep out of our rivers and lakes and drinking supply," he said.

Center leaders hope displaying these features will inspire others to make changes at home as well.

"We just want people to think about going green instead of gray. Any place that you can have native plants or landscaping or even divert a downspout from the sidewalk onto the grass. It's those types of little things that can greatly increase the infiltration into the ground which is what we want," said Kromrey.

The Watershed Center has many of these practices in place so if you're near valley watermill park feel free to come in to see how it's done and get tips for the experts.