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EPA Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Changes to List of Impaired Waters for Missouri

Release Date: 09/24/2008
Contact Information: Kris Lancaster, (913) 551-7557, lancaster.kris@epa.gov


Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., Sept. 24, 2008) - EPA has released its proposed decision on the remaining portions of Missouri's 2004/2006 list of impaired waters. EPA is approving Missouri's listing of 61 waters as impaired, and the delisting of 52 water bodies. The Agency is requesting public comment on its proposed decision to add or restore a total of 135 water bodies and corresponding pollutants (water body/pollutant pairs) to Missouri's 2004/2006 impaired waters list.

Region 7 Administrator John B. 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."

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

The Clean Water Act and federal regulations require EPA to review the state's list to determine if the state reasonably considered existing and readily available water quality-related data and information, and reasonably identified waters to be listed.

In its 2004/2006 list, Missouri did not identify waters as impaired by mercury. EPA reviewed the readily available water quality data to determine if the state had appropriately excluded this pollutant from its list. EPA found data indicating that 19 waters are impaired by mercury and is proposing to add these waters to Missouri's list.

EPA is proposing to add 50 waters to Missouri's list as impaired by low dissolved oxygen. In its public notice of the state's final 2004/2006 impaired waters list, MDNR explained that numerous waters were not listed because there were "no apparent pollutant sources." MDNR believes low levels of dissolved oxygen are naturally-occurring for streams in certain parts of the state. EPA is required to list waters that are not meeting their designated uses; this evaluation is made by comparing the state's criteria to its monitoring data. Missouri intends to gather and provide data to EPA to demonstrate that the observed dissolved oxygen levels are naturally-occurring. EPA is committed to working with MDNR to further refine its water quality standards.

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 19 waters as impaired by bacteria.

EPA also identified other water bodies that were inappropriately excluded from listing or inappropriately removed from Missouri's list. These proposed additions to the list include waters found to be impaired by chloride, metals, sediments, and unknown pollutants.

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."

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 60-day public comment period on EPA's proposed decision begins September 24, 2008, when the public notice link appears on the EPA Region 7 Web site. The comment period ends November 24, 2008.

The cover letter to the state, decision document, and consolidated 2004/2006 impaired waters list are available at http://www.epa.gov/region07/news_events/legal/index.htm. The public notice is available at http://www.epa.gov/region07/laws_regulations/CWA/2008/MO_303d_public_notice_9_24_08.pdf. Additional supporting documentation is available upon request by contacting Rebecca Landewe, Water Quality Management Branch, EPA Region 7, 901 N. 5th Street, Kansas City, KS 66101, (913) 551-7861 or toll-free (800) 223-0425.

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.

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