New cleanup effort of the Lake of the Ozarks

Water pollution at the Lake of the Ozarks has been a high-profile issue for a couple of years.

Most of the attention has been focused on closed beaches, E.Coli contamination, and the thousands of unregistered septic systems that now have state and local officials thinking about a regional sewer system.

But we don't have to look any farther than this month's snowstorm to find a part of the problem, the part Uncle Sam and the Nixon administration have stepped up to do something about.

Lake water contamination is not solely the result of leaching septic systems.

Storm run off, even that from slowly-melting snow, what water quality experts call "non-point source pollution, is part of the problem.

Non-point source pollution can come from chemicals we use to make our lawns greener, from oil, gasoline or transmission fluid leaking from cars and trucks in the parking lot, even from salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice," Governor Jay Nixon said.

The Lake of the Ozarks watershed alliance, LOWA has received a $740,000 federal grant to attack the problem of non-point source pollution at the lake.

The alliance will match with almost $500,000 for a program to monitor lake water quality and to teach the exploding lake population about low-impact landscapes, on-site water treatment, and other preventions.

"Non-point source pollution can be reduced by become aware of how land-use practices do affect and relate to the quality of our rivers, lakes, and streams, Missouri Department of Natural Resources director Sara Parker said.

Of course, the larger problem of point-source pollution still lurks in the shadows.

Since the attorney general finished his study, the watershed alliance has begun to meet with commissioners from the affected counties for preliminary discussions on tying everyone together on a unified sewer system.

"At this point, everything's just a suggestion, LOWA member Jim Rogers said. And we want to make sure that we have it thoroughly thought out."