Ponds, lakes, rivers and streams showing impact of drought

Low water levels on the Osage River have exposed huge sandbars just below Bagnell Dam. The severe drought has restricted Ameren Missouri’s ability to generate power at the dam.

Low water levels on the Osage River have exposed huge sandbars just below Bagnell Dam. The severe drought has restricted Ameren Missouri’s ability to generate power at the dam. Photo by Ceil Abbott.

From hosting skiers, boaters and fishermen to providing nourishment to livestock, bodies of water play a major role in everything from tourism to agriculture, especially in the summer — and some may be in danger of drying up.

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Despite the recent onset of relieving cooler temperatures, many local bodies of water have been adversely affected by the drought and have seen substantial evaporation and temperature increases, according to local officials.

Andrew Branson, fisheries programs specialist at the Missouri Department of Conservation, has received a multitude of calls from concerned landowners who have seen considerable evaporation in their ponds, leading to large amounts of their fish dying.

Calling the situation a “fish-kill,” Branson said the fish die due to lack of oxygen in the small amount of mostly heated water. In larger bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, fish can escape to cooler depths but in shallower ponds less than eight feet deep, they don’t always survive the summer.

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