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Clean Water: Land Conservation Helps Protect the Meramec River

The Meramec River is one of Missouri’s longest rivers, flowing 220 miles before emptying into the Mississippi River. It is home to many freshwater mussels and is designated as a “Red Ribbon Trout Stream” by the Missouri Department of Conservation. St. Louis residents receive some of their drinking water from the Meramec. Springs and the surrounding forest landscape both contribute to the high water quality provided by the Meramec, though this was not always the case. By the end of World War II, the river was no longer swimmable. As a result of the Clean Water Act, though, the river has recovered greatly. Area residents take pride in the river’s recovery. Each August they participate in a river cleanup that has been ongoing for 45 years. In 2009 the National Fish Habitat Board named the Meramec as one of its 10 “Waters to Watch” in its effort to highlight improving river systems. However, 20 cities are located in the Meramec River watershed and 2.5 million people live within a half-hour drive of the river, causing ongoing concerns about flooding, urban development, and pollutants.




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