For area golfers, it’s a chance to play at Buffalo Ridge Golf Course just south of Branson. However, playing there on Thursday, June 22 could have a far greater impact than golf.
After all, the eighth annual Ozarks Water Watch Golf Classic presented by Country Mart is a way to promote and support water quality in the upper White River Basin.
Just ask David Casaletto, President and Executive Director of the OWW, a non-profit that launched in 2001. It oversees 15 counties in southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas – an area tied around Table Rock, Taneycomo, Beaver and Bull Shoals lakes and other waters of the Ozarks.
“In many parts of the country, environment and business interests are on opposite sides. In the Ozarks, you find great cooperation,” Casaletto said. “It’s really nice.”
Several team spots remain available for the OWW Classic, and businesses can donate to the tournament’s auction items, too. Just call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100 to play. Tee time is 1 p.m. on June 22, with golfers to receive use of carts, a great lunch, gift package, on-course beverages and snacks and team photos. Trophies will be awarded to winning teams.
In the seven prior years of the golf classic, funds raised from the tournament have helped the Ozarks Water Watch climb from only two staffers to six full-time employees, along with the recent purchase of what’s now a non-profit, sewer maintenance company.
It has led to the OWW maintaining more than 100 sewer and water treatment plants.
The OWW also has signed an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources to provide assistance to homeowners who must repair failing septic tanks. If the homeowners are low-income, the OWW can provide a loan and grant for 100 percent of the cost. The loan portion is zero interest for the low-income homeowners.
“We also take care of drinking water systems, and as we know from Flint, Michigan, that’s an important public health issue,” Casaletto said.
Additionally, the OWW has expanded its outreach to host two shoreline cleanups with more than 1,200 volunteers.
“The proceeds from the golf tournament are what allow us to do these types of projects,” Casaletto said. “We do a lot of public education and events.”
Thus, the Ozarks Water Watch Golf Classic presented by Country Mart could be significant.
“One thing about our organization is we’re an advocate and friend,” Casaletto said. “We go to the source and say, ‘How can we help you solve this problem?’ In my heart, that’s how man and environment can work together. Can we we coexist with the environment? I believe we can.”