The Missouri Clean Water Commission has approved a sweeping regulatory overhaul of the state's water quality standards.
In a vote held Wednesday, the governor-appointed seven-person panel unanimously approved revised regulations that greatly expand the number of protected water bodies in the state. An additional 2,100 lakes and 90,000 miles of rivers and streams will gain protection under the law, including specific limits on bacteria and other pollutants.
The director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Sara Parker Pauley says the changes should significantly improve the state's water quality.
"You're looking at potential implications for drinking water, if that particular water supply is used for drinking water," Pauley says. "It certainly will have benefit for aquatic life living in those bodies of water, and we'll have protections from a public health standpoint as well."
But the Missouri Coalition for the Environment's Lorin Crandall says the measure's passage is bitter-sweet because it does not go far enough.
"You know, we're not satisfied that this rule fulfills the promises of the Clean Water Act," Crandall says. "But we are really glad to see Missouri moving forward and attempting to bring our program up to par with what's going on with the rest of the country, [because] we've been way behind for way too long."
The new rule aims to bring Missouri's water quality standards into compliance with the federal law.
The Commission also approved new effluent regulations to limit E. coli contamination and update water monitoring procedures.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources expects the new rules to go into effect at the end of February.