2018 FoRB Logo

Home | VNC | Issues

Water Quality

Water quality in the park is affected by waste water infiltration from poorly maintained sewage systems and by stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.

Wastewater | Stormwater


Household sewage and wastewater contain bacteria and viruses that can cause diseases like hepatitis A, cholera, salmonellosis, shigellosis, typhoid fever, giardia, and cryptosporidiosis. Wastewater also contains high concentrations of nutrients that can cause algal blooms that lead eventually to low oxygen levels when the algae die and decay. This can harm fish and other stream animals. Finally, household chemicals used for cleaning that go down drains and medicines that go through our bodies and down toilets can be toxic to stream and cave animals, aquatic insects and microorganisms.

In karst areas, water released onto the land typically flows through cracks in the bedrock directly into underground streams. Besides contaminating the cave ecosystem and harming its wildlife, these underground streams eventually make their way to the surface where nutrients and chemicals can harm fish and aquatic insects, and bacteria and viruses can make people who use the stream for recreation sick.

To make a difference:

1. If you live near the park, you may have an on-site waste water disposal system. Find out exactly what kind you have – a Wastewater Stabilization Pond (lagoon), a Conventional Septic System (septic tank and lateral field), or some kind of alternative system, and find out whether your property sits on karst.
2. Know what your system looks and smells like when it is operating properly. Lagoons should have a light green color and have no smell except for a few days in fall or spring when the water turns over. Septic systems should not smell and water should not pond in the lateral field.
3. Follow recommended maintenance schedules. Lagoons should be fenced, their berms mowed and trees kept 50 ft away to allow sunlight and air movement to increase decomposition. Plants growing in the lagoon should be removed.  Septic tank filters should be hosed down every 6 months, and tanks should be inspected yearly and pumped out every 3 to 5 years. The lateral drain field should be kept free of deep rooted plants.
4. Consider upgrading your system to take advantage of new technologies that are more effective, or work with others to connect to city or county sewage treatment systems.



Septic System

Sources and Resources

EPA - https://www.epa.gov/septic/how-your-septic-system-works
City of Columbia - https://www.como.gov/health/environmental-health/onsite-wastewater-systems/homeowners-guide-to-lagoons/



Storm water is any water from precipitation that drains off the surface of the land. There are two main issues with storm water: the amount that flows off and what is in it. When most or all of the water from a precipitation event runs off the land as it falls, it can flood nearby streams and roads and cause severe erosion. Later, in drier months, the water that failed to percolate through the soil into the aquifer because it ran off, is not available to recharge stream flow and serve stream animals. The second issue, what is in storm water, is due to the tendency for flowing water to pick up and carry away whatever lies on the surface into the nearest waterway. The most common pollutant carried by storm water is sediment, which can clog the gills of stream animals, plug spaces between rocks used by stream animals, and cut off sunlight for algae and other aquatic plants that form the base of a stream's food chain. If the storm water flows across yards or fields, it can pick up any applied pesticides and fertilizers. If the storm water flows across driveways, streets, roads and parking lots, it can pick up a host of chemicals shed by cars and trucks in their everyday operation. These include particles of exhaust, tiny bits of tire, and oil and other chemicals that leak from engines.

To make a difference:

1. Understand what a watershed is and in which watershed you are located. (Rock Bridge MSP is in 10300102, the lower Missouri-Moreau
2. Walk your yard or property during a rainstorm (unless it is thundering!) and observe how and where the water flows off your property, whether over the surface or into a sinkhole.
3. Learn about Best Management Practices or BMPs for residential property. These include rain barrels, rain gardens, wetland swales and detention ponds. Consider incorporating one or more BMPs to help hold storm water on your property, direct it away from streams and sinkholes, or to keep it from being contaminated.
4. For pesticides, cleaners and other chemicals, consider alternatives, follow label instructions and dispose of them properly.


Sources and Resources

Columbia Public Works Storm Water Education  - http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/PublicWorks/StormWater/Resources_and_Materials.php
USGS Watershed Information for the Missouri-Moreau - https://water.usgs.gov/lookup/getwatershed?10300102/www/cgi-bin/lookup/getwatershed
Bonne Femme Watershed Project - https://www.cavewatershed.org


The Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park (FoRB) is responsible for the content on this page.