Stinson Creek Enterprise

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FULTON — The city of Fulton is teaming up with William Woods University Chemistry Professor Joe Kyger to figure out the source of pollution in Stinson Creek, which is costing the city millions.

According to the Missouri Department of National Resources website, the creek was classified as "impaired" by pollution back in 2010 due to low levels of dissolved oxygen and too much organic sediment.

Fulton Interim City Engineer Kyle Bruemmer said the city is already paying millions of dollars to improve water quality in the stream. If the quality doesn't improve, it could pay more.

"We currently have a project that's in the realm of $10 million, which is improving our sanitary sewer wastewater treatment plant, that's the first round of treatments," Bruemmer said. "If Stinson Creek recovers, or compares well to those sample streams, then we would continue on as we are. But if it doesn't, then we have more rounds of improvements, and we're talking millions of dollars in improvement that would be required."

The city still hasn't figured out the source of pollution, and hopes that Kyger can supplement research with the city's improvement efforts to address it.

"The city of Fulton's focus is trying to find what's the best solution, and we're trying to use experts like Dr. Kyger to help us in that endeavor," Bruemmer said. 

Kyger has started a research project to figure out what that organic sediment is, where it is coming from and what is causing low oxygen levels.

"We will be looking at possible contaminants like medications, pesticides, oils," Kyger said. 

While Kyger has been planning the project for about a year, he presented it to the city of Fulton in mid-March.

Kyger is not alone in the research project, recruiting help from his students, like William Woods junior Phillip Kulpinski.

"The objective I'm doing as an analyst is to run the machine to determine what is in the substance, to find out what types of organic contaminants are in a solution, and then to quantify how much of it is in a given sample," Kulpinski said.

In addition to creating a legacy at the university, Kyger is motivated to pursue this project by his own use of the creek as well as others'.

"For the last 12 years while here on campus, I've used the trail along the creek as an exercise opportunity as well as many people do," Kyger said. "It's a beautiful area, it's the only major creek in the town and so sustaining it is of course extremely valuable to the community."

He said maintaining the quality of the creek is not the responsibility of just him or the city of Fulton.

"Maintaining the quality of our community, maintaining the quality of our environment is the responsibility of every single citizen," Kyger said. "If you wish to be truly an active citizen you would want to become involved."

Kyger plans on continuing to research the creek until he retires from the university.