News Release 182

Department of Natural Resources seeking comments on Missourians' recreational use of streams and rivers

Volume 39-182 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 3, 2011— The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on Missourians’ recreational use of more than 380 Missouri waterways.

As part of a periodic review of state water quality standards required by the federal Clean Water Act, the Department of Natural Resources is considering revisions to the recreational use designations assigned to a number of Missouri streams and rivers.

The department recognizes that Missouri citizens know best how their local rivers and streams are used and wants those who are familiar with these water bodies to provide their input. In particular, the department is looking for information on whether or not these streams are used by the public for swimming, fishing, wading, tubing or any other type of recreation. This information is critical for helping to maintain appropriate water quality where these uses exist.

Each of the water bodies under review fell under a default designation in 2005 as being suitable for "whole body contact recreation," meaning that people used or could use the river or stream for activities such as swimming, water skiing or skin diving.

The department's review of water quality standards will consider public input along with the results of stream surveys, conducted in 2007 and 2008 at the request of the Missouri Clean Water Commission, to determine whether these streams’ use designations should be adjusted to more accurately represent how they are being used or can be used.

These structured, scientific surveys, known as recreational use attainability analyses, or UAAs, combine stream depth measurements with interviews and public notification. In addition to surveying for swimming use, the department looked for evidence of existing secondary contact recreation uses, such as fishing, wading and boating.

The data from each survey have been compiled and reviewed, and a recommendation has been made to either maintain or revise the current recreational use designations. These recommended use designations will ensure appropriate bacteria criteria are in place to protect attainable or existing recreational uses.

The department is committed to protecting the public who use our streams for recreation, while at the same time being careful not to cause small communities or ratepayers to pay higher fees to protect uses that do not exist or are not attainable.

Facilities with state operating permits allowing discharge of wastewater are required to meet the highest federal and state requirements. A downgrade in a water body’s recreational designation does not exempt a facility from the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act or Missouri Clean Water Law. The conditions of each facility’s state operating permit must continue to be followed and enforced. Discharge of raw sewage is a violation of state and federal statute and will not be allowed.

To review the UAA information available online and see which streams may be affected, visit the department’s UAA website, dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/wqstandards/uaa/index.html. This page includes an online survey to assist the public in submitting comments as well as a video that further explains the process.

Citizens also may submit comments by mail to: UAA Coordinator, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Water Protection Program, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176. All comments received during the Recreational UAA public comment period, and any revised department recommendations, will be posted on the department’s UAA website.

The public comment period for this process runs through Dec. 31.

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