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DNR seeks public comment on proposed changes to water quality standards

Posted on Friday, November 3, 2017 at 7:04 am

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is seeking comments on proposed changes to 10 CSR 20-7.031, Water Quality Standards, including revised nutrient criteria for lakes and an amended Regulatory Impact Report on the proposed changes. A public hearing will be held at 9 a.m., Nov. 21, at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Dr., in Jefferson City. The comment period for the Regulatory Impact Report ends Nov. 24. The comment period for the proposed changes to the Water Quality Standards runs from Oct. 16 to Nov. 28.

The proposed changes to the state’s Water Quality Standards address numeric nutrient criteria for lakes, update water quality criteria for pH and other pollutants and revise sections describing mixing zones, general criteria and existing definitions. The department will continue to solicit feedback from stakeholder groups.

The DNR wants public discussion on water-quality standards.

The DNR wants public discussion on water-quality standards.

The amended version of the Regulatory Impact Report reflects the key changes to the proposed rule, including removal of lake numeric nutrient criteria for the protection of the drinking water supply use and reassignment of Harry S Truman Lake to the Plains ecoregion. The report documents the environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with all proposed changes.

In 2011, EPA disapproved proposed lake nutrient criteria for Missouri. Since that time, the department has been working with members of the public and 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 act quickly, EPA may be compelled under the terms of a federal consent decree to propose its own criteria. The department estimates the cost to implement its proposed changes to Missouri’s Water Quality Standards could range from $47.8 million to $83.1 million, far less than the $2.4 billion a federal rule could cost Missourians.

The proposed rule applies nutrient criteria based on geographic region of the state. The department has re-evaluated Harry S Truman Lake and determined that although the lake is in the Ozark Highlands ecoregion, its watershed is mostly in the Plains ecoregion. Reclassifying the lake to the Plains ecoregion in the draft Water Quality Standards Rule more accurately reflects the watershed’s contribution to water quality in the lake. This reassessment will reduce burdensome regulations for more than 130 wastewater treatment plants, saving them and their customers millions of dollars in unnecessary upgrades. Other changes to the revised report include removing lake numeric nutrient criteria for the protection of the drinking water use designation, amending the definition of Waters of the State to reflect statutory changes in 2015 and other revisions requested by stakeholders.

This rule is a protective standard appropriate for Missouri’s lake ecosystems,” said Ed Galbraith, director of the department’s Division of Environmental Quality. “The goal is to set standards that are based on sound science and protect water resources but do not force systems to make unnecessary and costly upgrades.

The revised Regulatory Impact Report can be accessed online at 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 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.

Comments may also be submitted 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.