Kayak meet-ups encourage a healthy Lake of the Ozarks

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CAMDENTON -  Donna Swall has been the executive director of the Lake of the Ozark Watershed Alliance, or LOWA, since its creation 11 years ago.

Swall said that LOWA is all about showing off the Lake of the Ozarks.

“LOWA is a citizen-based group of folks that care about the lake, we want it to stay healthy, we know we have a healthy lake, and it’s for tourist to come and enjoy the lake or folks that have businesses or property owners,” Swall said.

This group is powered by citizens who want to keep the lake healthy and show all it has to offer.

LOWA had a kayak meet-up at Ha Ha Tonka State Park on Saturday.

“To have an opportunity to offer a free service to learn how to kayak and to try many different types of kayaks,” Swall said.

A group of master naturalists also came to the kayak meet-ups to teach people how to use kayaks on the lake safely.

This also offers Swall and other members of LOWA an opportunity to educate the kayakers about what they can do to keep the lake healthy and clean, according to Swall.

Swall said that Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers an excellent environment to teach people about what they can do.

“We have a demonstration area here, a riprap, that shows what they can put in front of their lake house or business to keep pollutants out of the lake,” Swall said.

A riprap, according to Swoll, is sediment that goes into the lake that goes along the shoreline and become a table for bacteria to grow on. This will keep the pollutants out of the lake and will break up boat waves which will help docks near the riprap.

As for keeping the lake healthy, Swall said LOWA focuses on teaching the proper way of pumping out septic tanks and managing property to keep pollutants from landscaping in yards out of the lake.

Swall said that LOWA has benefited the community in huge ways, from showing citizens what they can do to keep the lake healthy, to doing a five year study of the lake to prove the lake to be absolutely healthy.

LOWA has several events throughout the year for kayakers. These events range from meet-ups like this to long kayak races down rivers like the Niangua.

As far as the future for LOWA, Swall sees continued education as well as growth.

“We really believe we could help the lake a lot more,” Swall said. “We have an opportunity to keep the education going out there and keep our lake healthy.”

LOWA hosts kayak meet-ups every second Saturday of each month through September at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The next one will be July 22.