November 7, 2013

Clean Water Commission Adopts

Long Overdue Water Quality Standards

(Jefferson City) Wednesday, the Missouri Clean Water Commission approved water quality standards that bring the state closer to compliance with the most basic provisions of federal clean water laws. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), a nonprofit, state-based environmental watchdog group, applauds the progress the new rules represent.

“Although far from perfect, it is good to see Missouri move forward on this critical structural deficiency in our implementation of the Clean Water Act for our waters. After years of allowing Missouri’s streams, rivers, and lakes to deteriorate, the standards approved today move our state down the right path for clean water,” said Lorin Crandall, Clean Water Director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

The standards extend protections to 90,000 previously excluded miles of Missouri rivers and streams that flow through parks, neighborhoods, forests, and fields; as well as thousands of lakes. These are protections that were promised in the 1972 Clean Water Act to help ensure that fish can thrive and people can swim in the waters of our state.

“Missourians deserve the benefits of the ‘fishable/swimmable’ designations,” said Crandall. “These are basic requirements of the Clean Water Act which includes the goal: to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters using science. It took decades, two lawsuits, and hundreds of meetings to get these standards.”

Stakeholders recognize the rule is not perfect.

“While a step in the right direction, this action still leaves more than 50,000 miles of rivers and streams, hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands, and uncounted numbers of lakes still without their legal protections,” Crandall said. “The number of potential off-ramps and exemptions will also require our attention for years to come.”

The standards passed today must still obtain approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which can accept, reject and modify them in order to ensure their compliance with federal law.

Todd Parnell, Chair of the Clean Water Commission, described today’s rulemaking as ‘historic.’


For background on the issue see here.