Flooding in the Ozarks leads to trash in waterways

Flooding can lead to trash in waterways
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:45 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Ozarks are known for natural beauty and, namely, the beauty of the waterways.

If you look at some levels in creeks, lakes, and streams as they continue to rise and fall due to rain, the changing levels leave behind trash and litter. Experts in the Ozarks say just the look alone can influence how people act.

”It can be really demoralizing for people because they see something that should be this natural, beautiful stream. It’s strewn with litter,” said Brent Stock, Executive Director of the James River Basin Partnership.

Stock says it’s not only ugly but can have a serious effect on wildlife.

”We’ve seen the pictures of the sea turtles with straws, or dolphins and seals and things wrapped up in plastic or fishing line,” said Stock. “But that actually happens here in the Ozarks. We’ve seen images from Lake Springfield of birds tangled up in fishing lines that can’t get loose and end up perishing.”

It’s not just the wildlife, though. Over time, it can affect all of us.

”Plastic doesn’t just decompose like a banana peel might. Plastic is going to degrade. It’s going to turn into small little pieces of microplastics that last for a very long time in our soils. Those can last a long time in our waterways,” said Stock. “We’ve heard about microplastics on the news that can affect our drinking water, it can affect wildlife that we consume farmed, farmed plants, and things like that can also uptake some of those plastics.”

And for people like, Allan Stare, who lives in Springfield, it’s a problem

”Because we are concentrated as a population, all of our trash is as well. I think that’s part of what’s happening,” said Stare. “When you get around Branson or get around Springfield, you’ve got these huge populations of people. So you’re going have the trash.”

Stare and Stock say it’s the small things that make an impact.

”I really think we could prevent a lot of it if we just think before rolling down the car window and tossing a bag of trash out the window,“ said Stare.

“You may have like a straw wrapper or a piece of plastic wrapping that comes out of your car when you open the door, and it blows across the parking lot,” said Stock. “It may seem insignificant, but I always try to chase those things down. Because, at the very least, maybe somebody will see me caring about picking up that piece of trash. And that will remind them, hey, I should probably do the same thing.”

For more information on opportunities to volunteer to clean our waterways, visit this website.

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