Missouri Left 135 Impaired Water Bodies Off Official List

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 6:18 PM EDT
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Missouri Left 135 Impaired Water Bodies Off Official List

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas, September 24, 2008 (ENS) - Missouri's most recent list of impaired waters left out 135 water bodies that contain pollutants above the levels permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act, according to a proposed decision announced Wednesday by the federal agency.

The EPA did approve Missouri's listing of 61 waters as impaired, and the delisting of 42 water bodies, but says the state did not identify waters impaired by mercury, low dissolved oxygen, bacteria, chloride, metals, sediments, and unknown pollutants.

EPA Region 7 Administrator John Askew said, "After an extensive and exhaustive review of the relevant and available data, EPA believes that Missouri should have identified more waters on its impaired waters list."

"Identifying impaired waters is a critical step in fulfilling the objective of the Clean Water Act, which is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters," Askew said.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources submitted its 2004-2006 impaired waters list to the EPA for review and approval, as required by the Clean Water Act. EPA made a partial decision on Missouri's list in September 2007.

EPA is required by law to list waters that are not meeting their designated uses - this evaluation is made by comparing the state's criteria to its monitoring data.

Wednesday, the federal agency said that in its 2004-2006 list, Missouri did not identify waters as impaired by mercury. EPA found data indicating that 19 waters are impaired by mercury and is proposing to add these waters to Missouri's list.

While reviewing Missouri's bacteria data, EPA found multiple assessment errors and, in many cases, found that Missouri had assessed its waters that are designated for whole-body contact against an E. coli criterion that has not been approved by EPA for Clean Water Act purposes.

After reevaluating Missouri's data against the state's only approved E. coli criterion, EPA is proposing to add 23 waters as impaired by bacteria.

In its public notice of the state's final 2004-2006 impaired waters list, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources explained that numerous waters were not listed because there were "no apparent pollutant sources."

But the EPA says 50 of those waters should be added to Missouri's list as impaired by low dissolved oxygen.

The MDNR believes low levels of dissolved oxygen are naturally occurring for streams in certain parts of the state. Missouri officials say they intend to gather and provide data to EPA to demonstrate that the observed dissolved oxygen levels are naturally-occurring.

EPA officials say they will work with the state agency to further refine its water quality standards.

EPA Water, Wetlands and Pesticides Division Director Art Spratlin said, "Clean water is important to the public health and economic well being of Missouri. Listing is a critical first step to identify waters where more work is needed."

For each pollutant that causes a water body to fall short of state water quality standards, the Clean Water Act requires the states to conduct a Total Maximum Daily Load study to determine the greatest amount of a pollutant that the water body can receive without violating water quality standards. A TMDL study identifies both point and nonpoint sources of each pollutant that fails to meet water quality standards.

Based upon recent discussions with the MDNR and members of the state's Clean Water Commission, EPA expects these issues to be addressed when the state's 2008 impaired waters list is submitted to EPA for formal review in 2009.

The federal agency is requesting public comment on its proposed decision on Missouri waters. The 60-day public comment period on EPA's proposed decision begins today.

EPA will consider written public comments in reaching its final decision on the additional water bodies identified for inclusion on Missouri's final 2004-2006 impaired waters list. The comment period ends November 24, 2008.

To view the cover letter to the state, decision document, and consolidated 2004-2006 impaired waters list, click here. See the public notice here.

{Photo: Children play in St. Louis' River Des Peres where the Sierra Club's Missouri Water Sentinels found dangerous levels of fecal bacteria after heavy rains.(Photo courtesy Sierra Club)}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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