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Maintaining the Mississippi: Why Moline is asking the public to help protect the source of its drinking water

The city has named Sept. 25-Oct. 1 as 'Source Water Protection Week' to help promote water conservation. Here are a few simple ways you can help the initiative.

MOLINE, Ill. — The city of Moline has declared the end of September to be 'Source Water Protection Week' in honor of the source of its drinking water: the Mississippi River. 

Throughout the week, the city is encouraging residents to make small changes impacting the river. Whether that's switching plastic water bottles out for reusable ones, cutting back on water consumption or cleaning up along the river's shores. 

"The Mississippi River has been a magnificent asset to the community of Moline and it can really only be such an asset if it's protected," said Tony Loete, director of the city's utilities. 

At a press conference outside of Moline's water department, Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati said taking care of the river is paramount to the city's economic and community vitality. 

"Moline residents are encouraged to recognize this precious resource and help conserve the watersheds that are the source of our water," Rayapati said. 

Every day, the city draws more than five million gallons of water out of the river. 

It's actually a decrease from a few decades ago, when Moline residents used six and a half million gallons each day. According to Loete, it's largely thanks to updated appliances in homes, which draw less liquid for daily use. 

Still, the city says there's more work to be done. 

"We want to truly have people change their behaviors, to reduce single-use plastics that are going into our waterways," Loete said. "It may seem like a small thing, but those single-use plastics - whether it's a plastic water bottle, food wrappers or something else - they make their way into the ditches in front of houses." 

Eventually, everything that lands on the ground in the community makes its way into the waterways, Loete said. But the biggest culprit, by far, is single-use plastics. 

One of the people trying to help keep the water a little cleaner is Moline resident Matt McCannon. 

When News 8 caught up with him, he was fishing along the banks of the Mississippi. He explained that he always throws his fish back and also tries to pick up any beer cans and trash along the shores. 

"You always want to keep it better," McCannon said. "Fish get in there, get stuck or ingest it and they die. And we don't want that." 

It's that behavior - picking up trash and caring for the river, that Moline hopes to see more of. 

"We've got a big job that we're doing," Loete said. "This asset belongs to our community. We're just the caretakers of it." 

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