City Officials Urge Columbians To Keep Trash Out of Streams

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COLUMBIA - Local activists urged Columbians to keep the city healthy by keeping trash out of city streams.

"It all comes out in the end. It's just simple common knowledge," said Mike Vencl, a volunteer at a recent stream clean up.

Vencl has been living in Columbia for 8 months and he said he does not understand why some people do not put trash in the trash bin.

City officials have taken action to keep waterways clear by working with volunteer team leaders since last summer to organize a stream team.

Columbia's Stormwater Educator Mike Heimos said Columbia has 15 watersheds and everybody lives in a watershed.

"It's important for each of us to remember that, you know, when you throw something out your car window, be a styrofoam cup or a plastic water bottle, or even cigarette butt, which is considered a pollutant, it works its way down to our local creeks and streams," said Heimos. "And in the end, this is the water we end up drinking."

The Columbia Crawdad Stream Team meets every 2nd Saturday of the month in order to make an effort to maintain a clean community.

Around 10 to 30 participants volunteer each month to get involved, and locations depend on the participants' ages.

Organizers said the number one trash item found was cigarette butts.

After that are plastic material as well as Styrofoam. Heimos said both are dangerous pollutants that Columbia residents should be aware of because they can lead to serious danger in the environment.

Vencl said he is worried about the current condition of Columbia's water.

"I have a water softener and we have a water softener tester in the mail as we speak and we're gonna check that, because we're concerned about the water," said Vencl.

Everyone can participate in monthly stream cleanup teams. Volunteers are provided trash bags and are instructed to wear comfortable shoes.

To volunteer to clean area streams and maintain a healthier community, e-mail Mike Heimos at

The Columbia Crawdad Stream Team will next meet on August 10.