Cass County Conservation District developing water quality taskforce

CASSOPOLIS — The Cass County Conservation District is looking to take an extra step to protect the county’s waterways.

The Cass County Conservation District was recently approved to create a water quality taskforce. The volunteer taskforce will collect data about and monitor the water quality of ground water, surface water and storm water in the county.

Conservation District Administrator Korie Blyveis said the idea to create a water quality task force in the county came after receiving input over the last year from many Cass County residents looking to learn more about their lakes and streams, hoping to improve their water quality and sharing concerns about invasive species in local waterways.

“I had a personal goal to improve water education and monitoring of the lakes and those types of projects in this office, but we didn’t have the funds,” Blyveis said. “But now, we had residents who were interested and wanted to be involved. … We had to move forward.”

The taskforce would begin by determining the current state of the water in Cass County, before moving to prioritize what issues the Cass County Conservation District would address, gathering volunteers and helping to guide the district toward grants to support future programming efforts and technicians. As many lake associations and organizations are already working on water quality monitoring projects, one of the main goals of the water quality taskforce would be to bring all that data together, so that it can be shared and give a full picture of the water quality in the county, Blyveis said.

“We want to analyze any unique habitats that need to be protected. If they are in great shape, good. Let’s keep them that way,” she said. “Or do we have areas that are getting disturbed in some way and need to be restored? Do we need to look for grants and assistance to restore those areas? Then overall, we know that education on different water concerns will be needed, so maybe we will prioritize what those are. … We will get the taskforce together, see who has skills in those certain areas and go from there.”

According to Blyveis, the taskforce is still in the very beginning stages. Currently, she is announcing the plan to start a taskforce and gauging interest levels in the community. In January or February of 2019, Blyveis plans to host a meeting of the water quality taskforce to discuss the taskforce’s goals and determine how to proceed going forward.

“I’m pretty excited,” Blyveis said. “We are going have residents, we are going to have organizations and hopefully we are also going to have some municipalities involved. This could really blossom into a great program.”

Blyveis said her end goal with the water quality taskforce will be to protect and preserve the water of Cass County, as she believes it is an important cause for the county.

“Water is the lifeblood of our community. We are lake rich, and we have many lakes — big lakes, small lakes,” she said. “I want to protect the quality of life in Cass County, and we know something can’t stay unless you work at it. … Let’s protect our lakes and stop concerns before they become so big, and we can’t easily address them.”

For more information or to inquire about being involved with the taskforce, contact the Cass County Conservation District at (269) 445-8641.

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