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Missouri River Offers ‘Abundant Water Supply’ — Even During Western Drought

Timothy Ganz
The Missouri American Water water treatment plant in Chesterfield, located on the Missouri River, can process up to 220 million gallons of water per day.
Missouri American Water
In addition to supplying drinking water to areas in Missouri, the Missouri River also provides water to Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.

Worsening drought conditions in the western U.S. have Timothy Ganz feeling especially grateful for the Missouri River, which provides much of the St. Louis region with tap water.

“Thankfully, we haven't had to deal with that here. We have always had an abundant water supply. Even in lower water years, we still have enough,” said Ganz, a director for Missouri American Water. “I think a lot of people don't appreciate it for what it is: an excellent source of drinking water.”

The water treatment plant in Chesterfield where Ganz works can treat up to 220 million gallons of water each day. St. Louis County used roughly that amount during a recent weekend in June.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Ganz joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss how high demand for water affects the Missouri River, immediate and long-term threats to the river and what it takes to produce clean drinking water from a waterway with such high turbidity levels.

“The Missouri River drains the heartland of farm country in America. It's historically a very turbid river, and turbidity is one of the parameters we monitor for, which is essentially the clarity or cloudiness of the water,” Ganz explained.

Hear the discussion

“The higher the turbidity, the more suspended material, the more dissolved material into water. And Missouri has very natural high turbidity, so we're used to settling that out. We have a process that manages that very well.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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