Cathy Stepp, Executive Director, Ozarks Water Watch
Greetings! I am delighted to join a fantastic organization whose work matters to all of us who call the Ozarks home. After all, where would we be without clean water? During my first few weeks as the new Executive Director of Ozarks Water Watch, I've had the opportunity to share time with some of our region's founding families and generous benefactors. To hear directly from them why they choose to invest in efforts to measure, monitor, and effectively communicate water concerns has been enlightening and inspiring. I'm sharing some pictures to give a bit more insight on my love of the outdoors... and to introduce you to our dog, Jack.
Exploring deep woods trails
Although I originate from "the north," (Wisconsin), my parents, husband, and I have adopted the Ozarks' unique beauty and warm hospitality into our hearts. We purchased our home in Branson about 5 years ago, and up until now I've only had time to vacation here. My husband and I knew this would be the place to call our Forever Home. I'm blessed to now begin my Forever with Ozarks Water Watch. I've been touched by the care I've seen for responsible resource protection while still having the ultimate respect for private property rights-a delicate balance to be sure. The Ozarks is special in so many ways.
Musky fishing with outdoor TV celebrity John Gillespie
I've had the opportunity to work on building coalitions with very diverse stakeholders on really tough issues during my professional life. While working in the state and federal governments, I've witnessed the benefits of candor, cooperation, and relationship building when faced with difficult issues. In my roles as a cabinet secretary and as a regional administrator for USEPA, I quickly learned that all perspectives need to be heard and compromises sometimes made to make improvements.
While many of us are busy with our kids, jobs, and meeting our household needs, it's easy to take something like clean water for granted. What a joy it is when we fill our bag limits while fishing and serve our catch to our families. Just turning on the faucet to wet our toothbrush is something we all do each day without much thought.
Our rat terrier, Jack, tagging along
But there is so much that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we continue to enjoy those simple pleasures in life. From wastewater and drinking water treatment to shoreline stabilization and habitat restoration, the efforts of professionals and volunteers who put their hands and feet into motion shouldn't go unappreciated. In a world of constantly evolving science and ever-changing regulations, it's difficult for producers and operators to keep up. Combine that with the definition of "clean water" being regularly debated, and the table is set for potential conflict. However, it's also set for creative solutions.
It's my hope to engage our community in conversations going forward on how to understand the challenges we face on all things "water." By listening and understanding the needs and practices of producers and engaging them with the regulators and policy makers to build bridges, there is no limit to the successes we can see on the ground.
My first successful turkey hunt after 5 attempts
I look forward to meeting and learning from the many folks who have thought about and worked on these important issues. We at Ozarks Water Watch will continue to pay attention to the needs and ideas that can insure we all continue to confidently turn on the tap and enjoy our shore lunches for generations to come.