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April 20, 2009

Plan to focus on health of Spring River watershed

By Susan Redden

sredden@joplinglobe.com

CARTHAGE, Mo. — When bacteria levels spike in Spring River, the causes could be animal, human or a combination, said Tony Moehr, Jasper County Health Department director.

Levels of E. coli bacteria, sometimes “off the charts,” have been tracked in water tests done in recent years by the Jasper County Health Department and a stream team composed of students at Carthage High School.

On Thursday, residents who live along Spring River or own property along the stream through Carthage will be asked to weigh in on what problems they see in the Spring River watershed and how they should be addressed.

“The main thing we want to do is get landowners’ input on what they feel are the needs along Spring River, so they can be incorporated into a watershed management plan,” said Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner for Jasper County.

He said the county has tried to identify landowners and residents who live along that stretch of the river to send them letters of invitation. He said organizers hope that anyone with an interest in the stream will attend the session, set for 7 p.m. in the agricultural department of the Carthage Technical Center, 609 River St.

“We’re hoping for a lot of community input that will help us put together a watershed plan,” Moehr said. “Eventually, we want a management plan for all of the Spring River basin in Jasper County, but we’re starting just with the stretch that runs through Carthage.”

‘Impaired’

That part of the river will be the first study target because sampling done by the health department and the Carthage High School stream team has identified elevated bacteria levels. The stream was identified as “impaired” by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as a result of the test results.

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