“I choose to listen to the river for a while, thinking river thoughts, before joining the night and the stars.” ~Edward Abbey


Since this is our first newsletter, I wanted to take a moment to say HELLO and welcome! As a grassroots, citizen-based advocacy organization, our most important resources are YOU, our members. Your voice matters. And your membership strengthens our collective voice for clean water. Thank you!

We have been busy, and we’ll have some exciting updates for you throughout the spring and summer. A few highlights of what we are working on:

  • Establishing a water monitoring program to test bacteria at recreational spots throughout the state to let you know if it’s safe to swim, fish, and float.

  • Creating a citizen-science microplastics monitoring project as part of a coordinated effort with Waterkeeper organizations worldwide.

  • Assembling a River Watch group to help us keep an eye on the waterways as well as a Science Advisory committee. Let us know if you’re interested in joining either one!

  • Planning the Great Meramec River Raft Race, a laid back, family-friendly event with live music, good food + beer, and some cool surprises.

  • Hosting a Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper member paddle, with details announced later this summer.

In the meantime we would love to hear from you. Tag us in your pics when you’re out on the water. Ask us your questions to be featured in our Ask a Waterkeeper column. And as always, if you see water pollution or something suspicious, let us know! 

We are YOUR voice for clean water.

For the Rivers,

Rachel Bartels
Founder and Waterkeeper

P.S. Help us name our newsletter! Email us your ideas, or post on social media for a chance to win a pack of reusable straws and a MO Waterkeeper stainless steel pint glass.

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Microplastics Project

Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5mm in size (about the width of a pencil eraser). They are formed in a variety of ways including larger plastic pieces that have broken down, microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics, resin pellet waste from plastic manufacturing (nurdles), or as microbeads, which are small pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic beads added as exfoliants to health and beauty products.

It is estimated that 80% of microplastics pollution originates on land, and it is often difficult to know how much of this plastic is in our waterways. We are working with other Waterkeepers across the country on a project to test our rivers and drinking water for these plastic particles. Follow us on social media or keep an eye out for more information in our next newsletter!

And if you have time, check out National Geographic’s reporting on microplastics in the Tennessee River, and some legislation impacting plastics here in Missouri.


Waters of the United States

In February we travelled to Kansas City to provide comment at the only public hearing on the rollback of clean water protections in the United States. The proposed Clean Water Rule removes historically protected rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and other waters from its "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) definition and limits our ability to prevent pollution from entering our waterways.

Click the button below to read more about it on our blog, and watch a short video we made about the Meramec River...

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Ask a Waterkeeper

To kick things off, we thought we would answer the question…What is a Waterkeeper?

The origins of the Waterkeeper movement date back to 1966, when commercial and recreational fishermen, many of them veterans, united to save the Hudson River in New York. Their outspoken, citizen-led advocacy ensured that laws were enforced and that their river, livelihood, and the health of their families were all protected. With this, the first Riverkeeper was born.

In 1999, Waterkeeper Alliance was founded to support the growing number of Waterkeepers, Riverkeepers, Baykeepers, Coastkeepers, etc. popping up to protect local waterways across the country. Today, Waterkeeper Alliance is the largest and fastest growing network of clean water advocates in the world.

Waterkeepers are the voice for the rivers and defenders of our fundamental human right to clean water. Our job is to patrol local waters, identify and investigate pollution, monitor water quality, work collaboratively to address the problems, advocate for compliance with clean water laws, and prosecute those who willfully violate them. Through community engagement and education, our goal is to energize local communities around water issues and empower you to protect your right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water.

According to Bart Mihailovich, Waterkeeper Alliance’s U.S. Organizing Manager and the former Spokane Riverkeeper, these water wardens are “grassroots activists on the frontlines of water issues in the communities they serve. Waterkeepers are on the water, in the community, and in the courtroom fighting for clean water.”

With over 300 Waterkeepers across the globe, chances are there is one wherever your summer travels take you. Check out some of our friends in places like San Diego, Tampa Bay, Gulf Shores, Ireland, London, and the Bahamas, and get to know the people keeping our oceans, rivers, and beaches clean.

Click the button below to get involved with the Waterkeeper movement and the future of citizen-led conservation in Missouri. Or click here to find your local Waterkeeper.


Upcoming Events

  • May 7th - Microplastics in Fresh Waters @ Neighbor Nights hosted by National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and Schlafly Beer

  • May 9th - Missouri Women’s Fly Fishing Alliance May Get-Together @ Frisco Barroom in Webster Groves

  • May 11th - Bridging the Gap’s annual gala: Plastics, the Planet, and You
    @ Westin Crown Center

  • May 19th - Clean Stream Initiative (rescheduled) with Alpine Shop, Schlafly, and Global Brew @ Simpson Lake

  • May 30th - Missouri Paddling Coalition meeting @ the Alpine Shop

  • June 26 - River Soundings 2019 with keynote speaker Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters @ Forest Park

  • Date TBD - Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper Member Paddle (stay tuned for more details!)

Event details can be found on our website:


Are you out there in the community keeping our rivers clean and having fun? Tag us @MOwaterkeeper and use the hashtag #keepMOwaterclean to be featured on our social media.

Report water pollution using our online form or by calling us 314-884-1473. And don’t forget to connect with us on Water Reporter! 💧