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Monday, August 18, 2003
Sierra Club ask EPA to take over 303d list in Missouri

The Sierra Club on Friday, August 15, petitioned the US Environmental  Protection Agency (USEPA) to take over the listing of impaired waters for  the State of Missouri in 2004.   The list - also called the "303(d) list" - is to include all waterbodies  that do not meet water quality standards for the beneficial uses designated  for each waterbody.   For example, if a stream in the Ozarks has "beneficial and designated uses"  for swimming and smallmouth bass fishing, the stream must meet standards for  such uses. In the case of swimming, the presence of bacteria above a  certain level would indicate that the stream is "impaired" for this use. In  the case of smallmouth bass, the presence of nutrients - which cause algae  blooms which in turn rob the stream of oxygen - would lead to a decline of  smallmouth bass, and hence cause that stream to be listed as impaired.  

"Water quality employees of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources  have on three occasions stated that, given the requirements of Missouri law,  it will be 'impossible' to meet the federal Clean Water Act requirement that  the list of impaired waters be submitted to the US EPA by April 1, 2004, "  stated Ken Midkiff, Clean Water Director of the national Sierra Club, "They  have stated that the list would be at least one year late. Our calculations  are that it would be two years late. Either is a violation of federal law.   "The reasons for this 'impossibility' are simple: Missouri legislators  passed a bill requiring the 303(d) list be prepared by the Missouri Clean  Water Commission as an act of "administrative rulemaking". Given the  lengthy procedures, and that rulemaking may be challenged administratively  and judicially, we are asking the EPA to take over this requirement of  federal law.  

 "The Missouri General Assembly can pass all the laws it wants to tie the  hands of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Clean  Water Commission, but this does not mean that federal laws can be ignored.  We are looking at other states, to see if similar barriers exist.   "Determination of impairment is based on scientific data," concluded  Midkiff, "Pretending that a problem does not exist does not make it go  away. We have no interest in protecting polluters - we want to prevent  pollution."