Drinking the Big Muddy

Published: August 12, 2015


Missouri American Water North Plant along the Missouri River near Chesterfield.
Photo courtesy of Missouri American Water

Presentation by Tim Ganz and Tom Simmons, Missouri American Water

Original Presentation, August 12, 2015 at Big A’s Restaurant, St. Charles, MO.

Believe it or not, 43% of Missourians get their drinking water from the Missouri River. That statistic includes the City of St. Louis water plant which, although it is technically located on the Mississippi River just downstream of the Missouri (just below the Chain of Rocks), is considered Missouri River water by the Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources because it is extracted before the Missouri and Mississippi River waters begin to mix.

Despite it’s high turbidity and muddy appearance, the Missouri River is still considered a high quality water source. Of course, drawing water directly from a big river brings its own engineering and logistical challenges. How do they turn that muddy river into drinking water? What effects do agriculture and urban runoff pose to water quality?

Missouri American Water (MAW) is a private water company serving communities in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties. The main source for much of their water is the Chesterfield plant, which draws water from the Missouri River. MAW employees Tim Ganz and Tom Simmons explained some of the unique engineering and water quality challenges they face on a daily basis turning the Muddy Missouri into quality drinking water for customers.

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