January 2022

Message From
Executive Director,
Cathy Stepp
It's amazing how fast this year has progressed, with facing difficult challenges and the uncertainty that this year has brought. Despite the challenges, our team has had tremendous success in our mission to improve and maintain water quality in the Ozarks. We are so thankful for our dedicated staff, partners, volunteers, and our sponsors. Without your continued support, it would be nearly impossible to accomplish all the goals we have set this year.

Looking back this year, we are truly grateful for over 600 volunteers helping to make the 21st annual Shoreline Clean-up a huge success by removing the equivalent of 230 truckloads of trash, and a full trailer of tires was retrieved from our waters and properly recycled. Thanks to our wonderful sponsors and donors we were able to raise over $13,000 to help improve this program for next year.

Our Beaver Lake Smart team continues to grow as we have recruited many volunteer citizen scientists to monitor water quality at 14 stream sites in the Beaver Lake Watershed, resulting in 560 physical and chemical parameters being added to our monitoring database this year, and 28 macroinvertebrate collections, identifications, and bio-indications of water quality. Speaking about improving water quality, we were able to secure $1.23 million in funding from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Division to repair and replace failing septic systems throughout the HUC-8 Beaver Reservoir Watershed, with an emphasis on low-income homeowners. So far to date, we have been able to successfully remediate 5 failing systems and have 9 pending, helping to further protect our ground and surface waters for years to come.

We're excited to continue with many of our projects such as the Lake Taneycomo Watershed Management Plan by holding the first in-person stakeholder meeting on January 11, 2022. We are also delighted to be working on the new Beaver Reservoir Watershed Management plan and SWAT Modeling and we will administer both projects and lead the stakeholder engagement related to plan 
development in 2022.

As this year comes to a close, we are looking ahead and are enthusiastic about advocating our mission and developing stronger relationships with all levels of government. Collaborating together, we hope to inspire our legislative and policy-makers to become more involved in improving water quality, focus on conservation in the Ozarks ensuring that our waters stay clean, fishable, swimmable, and drinkable for many generations to come.

So, as we say goodby to 2021, we are thankful for all the support, and we are ready to move forward to having cleaner water together...With the help from YOU, we'll have an even better 2022!
Meet Our New Missouri Program Director!
We're excited to announce our newest team member, Mona Menezes. Mona recently retired from the City of Branson, where she oversaw the creation of the city stormwater management plan, managed a household hazardous waste facility, recycle center, and chaired the city’s internal sustainability council for over a decade. 

Mona is multi-talented, where she has created and managed content for social media accounts and webpages for Branson’s environmental concerns. She secured and/or managed over $795,000.00 in grants, including funds for her most recent team effort to install a watershed-friendly walking path in the center of the city, using over 3,000 recycled tires. She has been a frequent public speaker, was Rotarian of the Year, and has led hundreds of stream cleanups and other public events. Mona is a wonderful addition to the team and will help to launch our upcoming Fall Water Conference in 2022, improve our Clean Marinas program, help with our grant applications, LTWMP, and our Shoreline Clean-up events.
Watershed Management Plan Coming in the New Year!
As we ring in the new year, we look forward to beginning a new project for water quality in the Upper White River Basin (UWRB) in Arkansas. We are working with FTN Associates to develop a watershed management plan, which will open new opportunities to protect our water resources for recreation, fishing, drinking water, and other important uses.

We are set to begin Phase 1, where we will prioritize sub-watersheds (smaller areas within the larger UWRB) to identify where efforts and resources can be targeted for the greatest improvements to water quality. FTN Associates will collect land use, water quality, and other data to model sediment and nutrient loads across the Basin.

Upon the completion of Phase 1 later in 2022, we will begin Phase 2 which is to write the watershed management plan. This phase will be informed by the results from Phase 1 and also will rely on public engagement. Effective watershed planning and protection require input from everyone – success is built from all the experiences and expertise of the diverse groups of people in the watershed who rely on good water quality for their agricultural, industrial, recreational, and domestic uses.

We look forward to creating a comprehensive watershed management plan with your help! Reach out to us with your questions or comments about water quality in the UWRB – visit our website or email the project coordinator, Erin Scott, at erin@ozarkswaterwatch.org.

This project is made possible by funding from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Division through the Nonpoint Source Management Program and the Environmental Protection Agency Section 319.
Septic System Additives - Is It Needed and How It Works...
Septic system additives are marketed as part of septic system maintenance, but before using these types of products it is important to understand how your system works to best determine if the product is truly needed.

Your septic tank is designed to keep solids, greases, and oils from entering your drain field and causing clogs. Inside the tank is an environment of bacteria that works to break down solids into gasses and liquids, and other materials inside the tank that cannot be broken down (like sand, gravel, bits of plastic) settle to the bottom of the tank, creating a layer of sludge, and are removed through regular pumping. It is very important to understand that using septic system additives is not a replacement for having your septic tank pumped. When used improperly, additives can stress or damage your septic system, leading to more costly repairs down the road.

There are three types of septic tank additives: inorganic compounds, organic solvents, and biological additives.

Inorganic compound additives are generally strong chemicals marketed to open clogged drains. These types of products can corrode septic system components, especially concrete tanks and distribution boxes. These compounds also can kill the biological environment inside your septic tank, essentially sterilizing it for days and allowing raw sewage to flow directly into your drain field. This not only poses risk for clogging pipes and soil pores, thus degrading the ability of the soil to absorb and treat wastewater.

Organic solvent septic additives contain concentrated chemicals often used for degreasing machine parts, marketed for their ability to break down grease and oils. These solvents also kill bacteria and other beneficial microbes in your septic tank and may also contaminate groundwater. These types of products are banned in some states.

Biological additives introduce bacteria and other enzymes into your system to ‘enhance’ the existing biota or to colonize new systems. Septic systems do require bacteria to work, it is not necessary for bacteria to be added to the system.

If you are considering introducing an additive to your septic system, it is best to first consult with a septic professional to discuss why you think the additive is needed. Whatever the concern is, regular maintenance could be the best solution!

If your septic system is failing, we have resources that may be able to help with the cost of repair or replacement! To learn more about our Septic Remediation Program visit our website. You can also contact the Program Manager directly Here or complete the Form and we will contact you!
StreamSmart Citizen Scientist Program Is Growing!
This year, our Stream Smart program has recruited, trained, and coordinated 32 volunteer citizen scientists to monitor water quality at 14 stream sites in the Beaver Lake Watershed. This resulted in 560 physical and chemical parameters being added to our monitoring database this year, and 28 macroinvertebrate collections, identifications, and bio-indications of water quality. The data collected have been used by professional stakeholders, and academic students, and researchers.

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we are able to improve our monitoring with new equipment. Thanks to generous support from our partners, the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, each StreamSmart team member will get new dissolved oxygen (DO) meters to measure at their stream sites!

For more information about StreamSmart, or how to become a volunteer citizen-scientist, visit our website or click the link HERE.
Get Ready, Watershed Academy Is Coming...
Registration is now open for EPA’s Watershed Academy webinar on How’s My Waterway, which will take place on January 20, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. CST. This webcast will include a live demonstration of the recently enhanced

How’s My Waterway has added several new features over the past year that will be featured in this webcast. Communities use How’s My Waterway to learn about their watershed. When a watershed is shown to have pollution or other issues, it inspires people to get involved to protect and restore their waterways. By displaying all the information visually, it gives this data more perspective and transparency which results in the drive for change and innovation. For more information on How’s My Waterway Click HERE or to access the tool directly: https://mywaterway.epa.gov
It Just Makes Sense...
Learning exactly what and how much water we use from our lakes, rivers, and groundwater aquifers is really important. We should all be smarter about our water use, understand the value of water efficiency, and how we can all get more by using less. 

Just making a few small changes in the New Year and switching to WaterSense labeled products, will get you started down the road to saving water and preserving our most treasured resource.

Did You Know? Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use, for the average family, which adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day. That's nearly 1.2 trillion gallons of water used in the United States annually just for showering, or enough to supply the water needs of New York and New Jersey for a year! 

Learn More about Water Sense and the savings you can get by clicking the link.
Put Your Tree To Good Use After The Holidays!
A live Christmas tree provides some wonderful joy, creating memories and setting the one-of-a-kind holiday ambiance for the entire family. Once you are done with the holidays, it doesn’t mean that your natural Christmas tree needs to retire. It can find a second career in a lot of conservation-friendly ways.

Most live trees can be chipped and turned into mulch, or gardeners can cut boughs and branches from their trees and place them over perennial beds to help protect them from frost and snow. Our Christmas trees can also give a holiday gift to wildlife, where they are great for habitat, providing cover and shelter, and even creating homes for the fish. In addition to helping out wildlife, there are plenty of craft ideas that make use of post-holiday trees.

One of the many beauties of live Christmas trees is their potential to be recycled in so many beneficial ways. They truly embody the spirit of the season and can continue to give their natural gifts long after the holidays are over. Learn more about putting your tree to good use by clicking HERE.

Click Holiday Recycling Tips from the DNR on additional ideas to keep old outdated holiday items out of our landfills and watershed.
Your Gifts Can Keep Giving...At No Cost to You!
We hope you enjoyed all the gift-giving and receiving...When you get ready to shop online don't forget that your shopping can help us have cleaner water...by funding more activities, programs and education in the Ozarks.

Amazon Smile will donate a portion of your purchases to H2Ozarks - Ozarks Water Watch at no cost to you!

Click the link below:
smile.amazon.com/ch/43-1942991 and get started today!
Help Protect Streams...Adopt A Stream Program Needs You!
Is your family, organization, or business looking for a way to help protect Springfield's urban streams? Look no further, as SGF Environmental Services' Adopt-A-Stream program has three sections in need of adopting:

Jordan Creek South Branch - Detention Basin at Cooper Sports Complex and South Side of Lake Country Soccer. South Creek Close Memorial Park - Includes the shoreline of Drummond Lake to Scenic and the stream section upstream (east) of the lake (stopping at the MSU property line) Wilsons Creek - Scenic to Hillcrest.

For more information, or to sign up for a stretch, please visit the link below: https://www.springfieldmo.gov/3511/Adopt-A-Stream.
Introducing A Brand New Website...
This year, we have placed the highest priority on creating fresh branding for our organization, our mission, assisting our partners, and our community. We are continuously working with all types of media to inspire the Ozarks in becoming more engaged with water quality. In order to improve our communications and mission, we are proud to announce that we have created a brand new website providing a clear, concise, and easy to navigate website that will help our partners and audience to understand our mission, join the cause and be passionate about improving water quality in the Ozarks. Feel free to take a sneak peek at www.H2Ozarks.org.
The Ozarks Water Watch Staff
David Casaletto
Cathy Stepp
Executive Director
Carin Love
Internal Operations Manager
Eric Simon
Communications Manager
Erin Scott
Senior Policy and Program Director
Mona Menezes
Missouri Program Director
Shelly Dare Smith
Arkansas Program Manager