I've spent the last several days at the 2017 River Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. River Rally is a national gathering of professionals who support and protect rivers and watersheds across the nation. My participation was made possible by the Urban Waters grant that is funding my stormwater studies. As a grantee, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Urban Waters Learning Forum and the rest of the River Rally.
Rather than trying to summarize the whole experience of the River Rally, I will instead offer the most important lessons I learned:
On Wednesday, November 30, we held our annual Chloride Kickoff meeting. In the past, these meetings have mostly been an opportunity for Stream Team volunteers to join together and review the plan for the winter. This year was different. This year the event included the introduction to the stormwater chloride study being conducted by Saint Louis University with funding from the US EPA Urban Waters program.
This expansion of the Chloride Kickoff event also resulted in the inclusion of a new set of participants. We were pleased to welcome public works staff members from five of the six municipalities that are taking part in the grant study: Ballwin, Jennings, Manchester, Rock Hill, and Webster Groves. (Ferguson staff were unable to attend the evening.) During the social hour, it was wonderful to witness the interactions between public works representatives, State agency staff, and citizen scientists. The willingness and ability of these partners to work together will ensure the success of our combined effort to reduce chloride pollution in our suburban streams.
It is the last day of November and the time has begun to collect stream chloride data again. The winter salting season could start any day now, though you wouldn't guess it by the warm weather we've had this month. This will be the fifth year of an ever-expanding citizen science effort to understand the scope of chloride pollution problems in the St. Louis region. This study was designed and led by volunteers in the Missouri Stream Team program. They are an exceptional group of people and I am honored to have the opportunity to work with them!
In addition to this time of year being a good time to do some monitoring, today is also the day of the Chloride Kickoff Meeting. In the past, this has been a chance for the Stream Team volunteers to get together and socialize with each other. This year, the program has expanded to include public works staff from several area municipalities and a number of new faces representing State agencies. We expect to see public works staff members from the partner communities in our brine study: Ballwin, Ferguson, Jennings, Manchester, Rock Hill and Webster Groves. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation and Saint Louis University will also be represented. I am eager to get all of the partners on this project in the same room and on the same page!