KCUR News
8:09 am
Thu October 1, 2009

Nixon Suspends DNR Head Over E. Coli Mess At Lake

St. Louis, MO – Missouri governor Jay Nixon has put the director of the Department of Natural Resources on two weeks unpaid leave. The action came after the governor learned an E.coli-contaminated beach at the Lake of the Ozarks was open during Memorial Day weekend. Governor Nixon says the department told him last week that the beach in question had been closed, but Nixon says he learned otherwise from a newspaper report:

Nixon: "Yesterday's discovery about the failure to close beaches combined with well-documented other issues with management about water quality leads me to believe that a deep look into DNR is absolutely necessary."

DNR Director Mark Templeton says he was under the impression that the beach had been closed too.

Templeton: "I said that I passed the information from people in my department to the governor's office. Accountability is appropriate."

E-coli levels at the area in question were five times over the safe limit at a testing on May 18. Nixon's chief of staff John Watson says that so far no one has complained about becoming sick after spending time at the Lake over Memorial Day weekend. DNR officials says agricultural pesticides and septic tanks in the area have contributed to water contamination.