DNR Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Changes to Water Quality Standards
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is seeking comments on a draft Regulatory Impact Report on proposed changes to 10 CSR 20-7.031, Water Quality Standards, including revised nutrient criteria for lakes.
Since EPA disapproved an earlier version of state lake nutrient criteria, the department has been working with agriculture, industry and municipal leaders to develop standards that address EPA’s concerns yet are appropriate for Missouri’s lake ecosystems.
If the state does not take action before Dec. 15, 2017, EPA is required by court order to propose its own criteria.
“Missouri’s lakes and reservoirs exist within a variety of ecological settings from the Ozarks to the Plains regions,” said Carol S. Comer, director of the Department of Natural Resources. “These criteria will ensure we apply appropriate, accurate standards to protect our lake resources from excess nutrients in a way that makes sense for Missouri..
This proposal follows on the heels of the recent repeal by the U.S. EPA of the federal Clean Water Rule on waters of the United States.
“The recent repeal of the federal Clean Water Rule marks a shift in thinking on state accountability for setting water quality standards,” said Ed Galbraith, director of the Department’s Division of Environmental Quality. “State initiative is essential to prevent a federal one-size-fits-all approach."
While nutrients are an important part of a healthy lake system, excess nutrients cause harmful algal blooms, which can be toxic to fish and other wildlife.
“It is important to have the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and chlorophyll, and that balance is different for lakes in different parts of the state,” said John Hoke, coordinator of Water Quality Standards for Missouri. “The federal approach does not recognize those unique differences, which is why this rule-making is important."
The Department of Natural Resources estimates the rule would require upgrades to remove nutrients at approximately 166 public and private wastewater treatment plants. Estimates of statewide costs to implement the proposed rule range from $278 million to $492 million, far less than the $2.3 billion in upgrades the department estimates a federal rule could cost Missouri wastewater systems.
The department is requesting comments on the draft Regulatory Impact Report. The comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Comments must be submitted either online or by mail.
The draft Regulatory Impact Report can be accessed online at https://dnr.mo.gov/proposed-rules. Under program, select water protection then search. The draft Regulatory Impact Report, 10 CSR 20-7.031, is at the bottom of the list.
To submit comments electronically, go to https://dnr.mo.gov/proposed-rules and, under program, select water protection, then click on the green plus sign next to 10 CSR 20-7.031. This will take you to a screen that allows you to submit your comments electronically.
Submit comments by mail to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Water Protection Program, PO Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176, Attn: WQS Coordinator.
Contact information in all comments should include name, email address and phone number.