Project leads to cleaner Lake Taneycomo near Rockaway Beach

Published: Aug. 30, 2016 at 10:24 PM CDT
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The water looks good and the fishing is great.

"I got a fish," laughed fisherman Kale Denton as he reeled in a catch. "That is a trout; a rainbow trout!"

Rockaway Beach is here because of the water. But, in recent years, Lake Taneycomo had become (for some) a nasty neighbor.

"There was a lot of murk and algae growing in the water," said resident Daniel Hugh. "I was looking at it when I first moved here before when I first moved here, and you could not see but maybe two feet out."

"The people couldn't even open their windows because the smell was so bad from this treatment plant that people couldn't enjoy living here," said Dave Castelleto of Ozarks Environmental Services.

The culprit in all of this turned out to be the town's wastewater treatment plant.

"The nutrients were causing plant growth and I'm sure they fish weren't too happy about it," Castelleto said. "I wouldn't touch it, I wouldn't let anybody swim in it. And I sure wouldn't feel real comfortable about catching fish right there, either."

Back in April, operations were taken over by Ozarks Environmental Services, which used to be a water quality watch dog. The non-profit group went from just talking about cleaning up the water, to taking action for itself. The agency spent $300,000 on the plant.

"If we want to protect our rivers, our streams, our groundwater, you have to treat wastewater to where where when it lives the facility it is not a hazard and not causing algae blooms," said Castelleto.

You now can see and smell the difference.

"And now it is clearing out and you can actually see the life in the water," Castelleto said. "What we are putting in the lake is actually cleaner than the lake is right now. And I am pretty proud of that."

"I just saw one of the guys that worked there and I told him they were doing a great job and I am really impressed by it." He added, "The fish are around more. It is clearer. It is getting better and better by the days," said Daniel Hugh.

"We not only pulled it off, it is making beautiful water," Castelleto said.