I had the opportunity to chat with Donna Swall, the executive director of LOWA, in order to gain a better understanding about who they are and what they do.

See their full website here:  http://www.soslowa.org/

So Donna, Can you tell us about LOWA?

LOWA Inc, Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, is a proactive group of local residents formed to protect and preserve our lake and watershed. Prevention is better than repairing problems economically, health-wise, and for safety.

What do you actually do and why is it important?

LOWA has developed and is implementing watershed management plans for two major populated areas of the Lake of the Ozarks and incorporates all of the lake into programs and projects which will reduce pollution from reaching the lake.  Many educational meetings are and have been held aimed toward that purpose.  In addition, LOWA, through grants from Missouri DNR and US EPA provides cost-share funds to lake-side residents which assist those residents in developing landscape techniques using best available technology aimed at reducing run-off pollution of the Lake. LOWA is a true alliance of citizens and citizen groups and utilizes these groups, including “Master Gardner’s”, “Master Naturalists”, the Lake Safety Council” and others to educate and implement practices which will keep the Lake of the Ozarks beautiful, safe, and with high quality recreational water.

How did you get started with LOWA?

(Donna Swall): Was active with watershed groups and educating teachers about Stream Team up in Kansas City when DNR asked me to help them determine if a watershed group was wanted and/or needed here at the Lake. So we held several meetings around the Lake and had several hundred people tell us that, yes, a watershed group is wanted and needed at Lake of the Ozarks. So LOWA was born and I was elected Executive Director, and that’s when several others came on board as well. Since then, many volunteers have come and gone, and LOWA has now written two watershed management plans and is in the middle of implementing their LOWA LILs grant helping property owners control stormwater runoff all around the Lake. LOWA’s mission statement has been to maintain and improve the economic, social, and environmental health of the Lake of the Ozarks, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.

How did LOWA get involved with the 2Dam Days race?

In the Winter of 2010, a lake area kayak enthusiast, Kevin Sellers, sent a letter  to the Governor’s Citizens’ Suggestion Program in which he suggested the idea that a paddle race from Truman to Bagnell Dam would help shine the light on  the need for high quality recreational lake water while demonstrating that the Lake of the Ozarks is such a body.  The Governor turned this idea over to Missouri DNR and the DNR Director in turn recommended that LOWA investigate its’ feasibility and proceed to implement it if appropriate.

LOWA Executive Director Donna Swall and other board members met with Mr. Sellers and discussed the idea further.  It was agreed that such a race would indeed demonstrate that the lake is high quality recreational water, would provide wide-area publicity which should increase tourism to the lake, would provide a vehicle for greater local citizen participation in LOWA, and would provide income to LOWA by which the LOWA lake water quality projects could be funded.

How many people do you have working for LOWA?

LOWA has 4 people on the payroll to implement their Healthy Lake grant, but LOWA also has at least a hundred different people who volunteer their time, skills, knowledge, and even money to help LOWA not only with the grant, but also with all of the other projects LOWA has going that help keep LOZ beautiful and healthy.

What are some examples of some really big successful projects that you guys have ran in the recent past?

Right now, LOWA has their LOWA LILs Project in full gear. All around the Lake, property and business owners are installing rain gardens, terraces, rain barrels, vegetated buffer strips and many other landscaping and riprapping techniques to control stormwater runoff and soil erosion. In coordination with area sewer districts, LOWA is also pioneering a new approach to removing septic systems and installing sewer. Rocky Mount Sewer District will be using compost socks around the land disturbance as grinder pumps are installed and hooked up, to catch soil and sediment during the temporary land disturbance. Then, these socks will stay in place, be planted with native plants, and become a permanent bermed area to help manage stormwater runoff. This Project is bringing awareness to LOZ about the contaminants runoff can wash into the Lake and measures individuals can take to help keep those contaminants out of the Lake.

What is one of your favorite memories regarding your involvement with LOWA? 

How about two?


Some of my favorite memories are working with the students teaching water quality monitoring on our beautiful streams around the lake at Earth Day.

Also riding the lead boat with my daughter for the 2 Dam Days Race.  Up at dawn watching the sun rise over our beautiful Ozark Mountains and making a safe way for our Kayakers. You really need to be here to experience the beauty.

If someone wants to get involved, what can they do?

That’s easy! Call, email, or go to our website! A good phone number and email is  Donna Swall 573- 434-4400, or donnamswall@yahoo.com or  LOWA’s website is www.sosLOWA.org

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