The government must make sure Missouri complies with federal clean water standards to protect streams and rivers from bacteria, sewage and mining discharges, according to a consent decree.
ST. LOUIS The government must make sure Missouri complies with federal clean water standards to protect streams and rivers from bacteria, sewage and mining discharges, according to a consent decree.
Under the decree, approved Monday by a federal judge in Kansas City, Missouri has until April 2006 to issue clean water regulations that conform to the 1972 Clean Water Act. If it doesn't, the Environmental Protection Agency must write them.
The agreement resolves a lawsuit claiming EPA shirked its responsibility to push the state harder for clean lakes and rivers.
The St. Louis-based Missouri Coalition for the Environment, which sued last year, called the settlement a "fabulous result for Missouri's streams and lakes" that will bring them closer to being "fishable and swimmable" as required by the Clean Water Act -- one of the country's landmark environmental laws.
A key claim in the lawsuit was that standards are not in place to protect 90 percent of Missouri's streams for swimming or other recreation.
The lawsuit claimed the EPA has allowed the state's Department of Natural Resources to keep from setting standards for metals and toxins in drinking water supplies, excessive toxins in fish, and bacteria limits when it rains.
Also, Ted Heisel, the coalition's lawyer, said DNR, under EPA's oversight, created "serious loopholes" in the early 1980s allowing the discharge of mining and sewage treatment waste into the Jacks Fork, Current and Eleven Point rivers.
The rivers, popular with canoeists, are nationally protected and considered the state's crown jewels.
DNR lawyer Aimee Davenport said draft clean water regulations will be presented Jan. 5.
Source: Associated Press